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As Scooter Popularity Soars, So Do Injuries

continued...

Angela Mickalide, PhD, program director for the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, agrees that control is a problem. "Parents have a false sense of security because the scooters have handlebars and they are low to the ground. They think that because they have handlebars, [the scooters] are easy to control," she says.

Huey, like Wiebe, has seen mostly fractures, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and some minor head injuries. They've had no deaths -- so far.

And Mickalide says that dentists are reporting lots of mouth and tooth injuries in youngsters who fall against the handlebars.

Huey and Wiebe say when children are injured on the scooters because they weren't wearing helmets and knee and elbow pads, their parents seem to have a "it won't happen to my child" attitude -- until it does.

"That's an appropriate and expected attitude for a child, but not for an adult," Huey says.

Wiebe says that "you can't make a kid live in a bubble," but he and Huey agree that children must wear protective padding and head protection. They also say that children under 8 should not ride a scooter without supervision of a responsible teenager or adult and that the area where they ride should be restricted -- never including the street. Huey also suggests that children aged 5 and under shouldn't ride the scooters at all because they don't have the coordination or strength to handle them.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign says that protective gear should fit properly and not interfere with the rider's movement, vision, or hearing. What to gear up with? "We urge that they wear knee and elbow pads and helmets. However, we have received a number of calls that wrist protectors make it harder for kids to hold on to the handles," Mickalide says. As a matter of fact, SAFE KIDS no longer recommends wrist protectors.

They also recommend that parents check scooters thoroughly for loose, broken, or cracked parts; sharp edges and slippery surfaces where the child stands; and nicks and cracks in wheels.

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