Ice Skating Safety for Children

Ice skating can be a lot of fun and a great form of exercise. However, like anything else participants, especially children, need to learn how to enjoy this wonderful form of recreation in a safe way. There are a few simple rules that children and their parents need to follow for safe ice skating.
 
Teach your children to never touch the skate blade.
Skate blades are sharp, very sharp and even a casual, exploratory touch might be enough for a deep cut. First few times put the child’s skates on for them, then supervise them until they get the hang of it. Teach your kids to respect skate blades as if they were very sharp knives.
 
Make sure your child’s skates fit properly.
Skates that are too large or too small could help create accidents. Skates that are too small can also cause blisters. Also make sure the skates provide proper ankle support.
 
If at all possible take your beginning skater to a rink the first few times but try and schedule it when the rink is less crowded.
 
You want to lower the possibility of someone accidentally skating into your child. Having more room on the ice will also allow your beginning skater to gain some experience and some confidence. Many rinks have special times for beginners which can only help. Always skate with a new skater, do not let them skate alone. Also make sure that you watch out for other skaters. As we all know there are some individuals who may have a low level of awareness or are just plain careless. A collision with another skater could result in your child getting injured.
 
A few words about ponds: Only skate in designated skating areas where the ice is known to be strong. Make sure you always check for cracks, holes, and debris on the ice. Most important, never skate alone.
 
A helmet for a beginning skater is mandatory. No exceptions.
 
Read these comments by Jessica Wasik, Pittsburgh Ice Skating. This was published in Examiner.com, November 1, 2010.
 
“First, invest in a high-quality helmet—and make sure your skater wears it properly! Parents usually take care to bundle their children with cushiony gloves and sweatshirts, but they often overlook the importance of head protection, particularly in Tot classes where children are still mastering on-ice balance, coordination, and muscle strength, many for the first time.
 
An American Academy of Pediatrics study in a July 2004 article in Pediatrics found that the majority of injuries to recreational ice skaters were to the head often caused by a skater falling backwards or sideways preventing skaters from using their arms to stop their fall. This study also determined that children age six and under have the greatest risk for head injuries possibly due to a higher center of gravity in younger children causing them to fall headfirst.
 
While helmets designed for bicycling and skateboarding will suffice, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises looking for helmets that meet the ASTM Skateboard standard—“F 1492” certified—or dual-certified to bicycle and skateboard helmet standards. With multi-impact capability and additional protection toward the rear of the head, these helmets offer more safety than traditional bike helmets.
 
Ski helmets are another option. Although slightly more expensive, they are also warmer and provide similar impact protection as bicycle and skateboard helmets. Settlers Ridge’s REI store has a broad selection of kids’ ski helmets in the $60.00 range.
 
Prior to purchasing any helmet, check the fit. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has useful tips on making sure your child’s helmet fits properly.”
 
Happy skating and please skate safe.
 
Resources:
Preventing ice skating injuries during National Child Safety & Protection Month
Jessica Wasik, Pittsburgh Ice Skating, Examiner.com, November 2010
 
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute Helmet Guide
 
http://kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=KidsHealth&lic=1&ps=107&cat_id=20889&article_set=75541
 
Frostbite is always a potential danger with outdoor wintertime activities including ice skating on a pond or outdoor rink. Download this outstanding guide on Frostbite from Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus Ohio.