Guest Blogger: JE Ince These days, one of our biggest challenges as parents is keeping our kids active and healthy. A fun option is to get them on a bike, skateboard, inline skates or scooter. With the wind in their hair, kids won’t even notice they’re shedding calories, improving their respiratory and cardiovascular health, and even helping them stay focused in school. Keeping children safe while they’re participating in these activities is job one for parents. The first step is selecting appropriate equipment. Choosing the right kind of bike for your child can be a challenge. Will they be riding more on the road or off? Will they be riding for distance or just around the block? According to ibike.org, the first and most important step is choosing the right size bike. The same questions need to be asked regarding skateboards, inline skates and scooters. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers helpful suggestions for choosing the appropriate skateboard, skates or scooter for your child. It’s worth noting that the AAP recommends avoiding scooters for children under the age of 5, and avoiding skateboards for children under 10. For more on scooter safety, check out the Late Night Parents website, and TeensHealth.org’s articles on skateboarding safety, and in-line skating safety. If you give them wheels, then you need to teach them the rules of the road. Skills like yielding to traffic and making proper left hand turns take time and adult supervision to develop. The International Bicycle Fund provides great starter information relating to bike safety. As soon as your child progresses beyond the beginner level, you may want to take a look at the more advance information provided by BicycleSafe.com in their article How to Not Get Hit by Cars. The rules of the road for skateboarders are much simpler to grasp… stay off the road. Healthychildren.org recommends avoiding any skating in the street and advises skating on the right hand side of sidewalks and paths, moving to the left only to pass. A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment, whether riding a bike, skateboard, scooter or inline skates. Choosing the right helmet can be tricky, but it can also mean the difference between a bump and a concussion. The vast majority of bicycling accidents do not occur when children are using their bikes to get from point A to point B, but rather when they are simply playing around being kids, so it’s important that kids wear helmets whenever they are riding. If your child hates wearing their helmet, check out these helpful tips from healthychildren.org. The International Bicycle Fund’s amusingly titled article, Bicycle Helmets: a.k.a. skid lid, crash cup, can, cranium catcher, skull insurance, brain bucket, frown crown, road rash repellent, goes into great detail about what to look for in a helmet. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that helmets meet the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). When you are out shopping for a bike helmet, always look for a CPSC sticker before you buy. If you’re shopping for a helmet for a skateboarder, TeensHealth.org recommends getting a helmet specifically made for skateboarding. It should have a sticker inside saying it meets the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard. Other safety equipment for skateboards, in-line skates and scooters would include knee and elbow pads and wrist guards, although for scooter riders make sure the wrist guards do not hamper their ability to grip the handlebars. All should fit snuggly. And always make sure your children are wearing durable, sturdy shoes. Properly fitting safety gear is as important for the beginner as it is for the teen that has elevated their skill level to doing stunts and tricks. The National Safety Council offers comprehensive safety tips for skateboarding, biking, and inline skating. Remember, no matter how proactive you are about your child’s safety, accidents will happen. Do what you can to help them learn the necessary skills and use the right equipment, then enjoy watching them spread their wings! Amber Alert GPS, Inc., the award-winning provider of mobile tracking and family and child safety solutions, was founded by Russ Thornton, who was motivated by the temporary loss of his own child to develop a GPS child tracker device. His experience ultimately led to the development of the most comprehensive and feature-rich child tracking device and mobile phone apps which could prevent such incidents from happening to other families, but also provide a quick resolution should a child indeed go missing.
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