Safety Tips for In-Line Skating
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Safety Tips for In-Line Skating

It’s fun, exciting, and great exercise, but in-line skating can be hazardous if you don’t wear proper safety gear or don’t learn to skate and stop safely. In fact, in the US, approximately 100,000 people visit the hospital emergency room each year because of injuries associated with in-line skates. Wrist injuries are the most common, followed by injuries to the leg, knee, ankle, or elbow. Injuries to the head and face are fairly common, as well.

According to the InLine Club of Boston, the most common in-line skating injuries result from:

  • Falling after hitting a:
    • Rock
    • Stick
    • Pothole
    • Bump in the pavement
    • Other object
  • Losing balance
  • Colliding with another skater, cyclist, or pedestrian
  • Losing control while skating downhill
  • Slipping on sand, oil, or wet pavement
  • Not stopping soon enough before entering an intersection

The following tips help reduce skating injuries:

Always Wear Proper Safety Gear

Proper safety gear for skating includes:

  • A helmet that fits well and is worn properly
  • Elbow pads
  • Knee pads
  • Wrist guards
  • Gloves

Check Your Equipment

  • Your skates should be of high quality and should fit well, providing good ankle support.
  • Check your skates on a regular basis to make sure they are in good condition.
  • Replace any wheels, bearings, or brakes that are starting to get worn.
  • Check your wheels and remove any grass or rocks that are stuck in the bearings.

Get Instruction

Get instruction from an experienced skater. You should have basic skating skills (turning, controlling speed, falling safely, and stopping) before you attempt to skate in a public place.

The following tips can help you stop safely:

  • Use the brake pads (at the heel of most in-line skates).
  • With one foot somewhat in front of the other, raise the toes of the front foot and push down on the heel brake.

Stay Alert

  • Be cautious when skating in areas where there are cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and other skaters. Avoid sudden stops and turns.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Look over your shoulder quickly every 10 or 15 seconds.
  • Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Be alert for children, who are unpredictable and may run across your path when you least expect it.
  • Be cautious around dogs, especially if they are on leashes. If a leashed dog runs in front of you, you may skate into the leash and fall.

Skate Only in Safe Areas

  • Skate on smooth, paved surfaces without any traffic.
  • Do not skate through water, sand, mud, or oil. The wheels of in-line skates have little traction.
  • Beware of cracks in the pavement that run parallel to your skating path. Your skates can get locked into cracks, causing you to lose balance.
  • Avoid skating on surfaces with water, sand, gravel, or dirt.
  • When you approach a driveway or parking lot, always expect a car to come speeding out.
  • Before crossing an intersection, always look around for any car that could turn in front of you.
  • When approaching a car parked on the side of the road, be prepared for someone to open a door.
  • Obey traffic regulations.
  • Remember that it is dangerous to skate in the street.

Do Not Skate at Night

At night, others can't see you and you can't see obstacles or other skaters. If you must skate in the dark, wear reflective clothing, put flashing bicycle lights on your helmet, and carry a flashlight.

Avoid Any Type of “Towing” Activity

Do not hitch a ride to any moving vehicle when you are on in-line skates. You may not be able to slow down fast enough to avoid colliding with the vehicle that is towing you. You could also be thrown into oncoming traffic. For the same reason, do not let your dog tow you while you are on skates.

Do Not Use Headphones While Skating

While skating, avoid using headphones, or anything else that could prevent you from hearing vehicles, cyclists, and other skaters.

Be Courteous

  • Pass pedestrians, cyclists, and others skaters on the left, and only when it is safe to do so.
  • Let others know when you are going to pass them. Say “Passing on your left” in a pleasant tone of voice that is loud enough for them to hear.
  • If skating with another person or group, skate in single file.
  • Stay to the far side of sidewalks, trails, and bike paths.

References:

The InLine Club of Boston. Available at http://www.sk8net.com/Learn/SkatingSignals.html.

International Inline Skating Association. Available at http://www.iisa.org/places/index.htm.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Available at http://www.cpsc.gov/.



Last reviewed June 2008 by Robert E. Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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