Skateboards come in various shapes and sizes that allow riders to travel fast and do tricks. As a bigger version called longboards become a more common sight, so do their riders’ injuries.
Longboards usually are 42 to 80 inches long compared to 30- to 38-inch-long skateboards. The longboards allow riders to speed along at more than 30 mph. Downhill riding speeds can be even faster. Riders of either type of board are at risk of being injured if they fall or run into another object or person.
Parents whose children ride longboards should be aware of their unique safety issues. The wheeled boards usually are ridden on roads, putting riders in danger of running into traffic. A recent study on longboard riders found that injuries tend to be more severe than skateboard injuries. Most common are upper body injuries, including skull fractures, brain injuries (concussions) and bleeding of the head. Girls suffer longboard injuries more than skateboard injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises riders of skateboards and longboards to follow safety precautions.
Wear a helmet that meets safety standards. Look for a label on the helmet that reads ASTM F1492 or Snell N-94. This means the helmet is specially designed to protect skateboarders, longboarders and roller/inline skaters.
Wear protective gear: wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and shoes with flat soles.
Make sure the wheels and hardware are secure before riding.
Be aware of speed wobble, when the board moves from side to side unexpectedly and causes the rider to fall off. To prevent it, ride forward on the board and crouch. Longer boards with wheels that are farther apart may be less likely to have speed wobble.
Check local laws before riding in public. Some cities have rules about where longboards and skateboards can be ridden. Never ride alone or in low light.
Watch out for holes, rocks and bumpy riding surfaces.
Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Use community skateboard parks instead of riding on homemade ramps or jumps. The parks are away from motor vehicle traffic, and ramps are monitored for safety.
Children under age 5 should not ride the boards, and children ages 5-10 should be supervised.
© 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.