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On Wheels? You Need Protection.

August 18, 2019

On Wheels? You Need Protection.

With summer weather still holding on, there's a good chance you could be enjoying Dayton's bike trail system, or maybe trying out e-scooters. But before you head outside, make sure you take a few safety precautions to avoid common problems that could land you in the Emergency Department.

“Each year we see injuries associated with anything on wheels, and that includes head injuries, collar bone, and wrist fractures, and major scrapes—or ‘road rash’—due to accidents on pavement,” says Nancy Pook, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Kettering Medical Center. “Risk of injury increases at accelerated speed, on inclines, and near traffic, so it’s important to know how to stay safe while having fun.”

Before you head out the door, you can take steps to reduce your risk of injury. Follow these tips to stay out of harm’s way and avoid having an emergency:

Wear a properly fitted helmet

Helmets reduce the risk of serious, long-term head and brain injuries in the event of a crash or accident. No matter which activity you enjoy, helmets are a must and should be worn regardless of age. That means always wearing a properly fitted helmet—even if you only plan on riding for a few minutes or a short distance. Helmets for biking, in-line skating, and skateboarding are all made differently, so get the right one for your activity.

Helmets should be age-appropriate, well-maintained, and worn consistently and correctly. Most helmets are designed to withstand minor dumps or scrapes, but one it’s been through a hard hit or becomes cracked, it’s time for a new one. Look for one approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Gear up in style and the right size

Make sure equipment fits and is the right size for you or your kids.

  • Sit on the seat of your bike and grasp the handlebars. If the balls of both feet aren’t touching the ground, the bike is too big.
  • In-line skates should be fitted. They should fit snuggly without reducing circulation or cramping the toes. Blades that don’t fit right can lead to sore feet, blistering, and unstable blading—especially if they’re too big.
  • Skateboards come in various widths and lengths, so get a board that’s right for your size and experience level.

Check that everything works

Inspect your equipment before every ride.

  • Check your skateboard for loose, cracked, or broken parts; sharp edges; or a slippery surface. All are signs that your board needs a repair.
  • Check that tires are properly inflated and that the brakes and gears work on your bicycle. Remember, smaller hands and muscles may not have the strength for hand brakes, so foot brakes are a must-have for young kids. If you ride on the road, your bike should have a headlight and taillight that are visible from 500 feet away. If you don’t have lights, get reflectors that are visible from the front, rear, and sides.
  • In-line skates should be checked to ensure the wheels and brakes aren’t worn down and that no debris is blocking the wheels. Wheels should roll smoothly, without catching, and should not have cracks.

Always dress for success

  • Wear closed-toe shoes. Proper athletic shoes are important, especially for skateboarding. Never wear flip-flops while riding a bike or skateboarding.
  • Wear brightly colored, fluorescent, or reflective clothes that motorists can easily spot if you plan to ride your bike or in-line skate near traffic. In addition to a helmet, “wrist, elbow, and knee pads are essential for activities like skateboarding and Rollerblading,” where there is a great potential for high speeds and loss of balance, says Dr. Pook.

In the event of an emergency, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency center. Click here to find an Emergency Department near you.