The cold winter weather marks the start of what can be a high-volume injury season for children. According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 10,000 children are treated in emergency departments each year for ice skating-related injuries.
Ice-related injuries can include everything from scrapes, bruises, concussions and broken bones while ice skating, to hypothermia and drowning when using unsafe outdoor ice, such as lakes and ponds. Studies published in the journal Pediatrics have found that head injuries and concussions are more common among ice skaters when compared with in-line skating and roller skating.
"Rhode Island law requires that all children fifteen and under wear a helmet when roller skating or rollerblading. Since head injuries and concussions are actually more common while ice skating compared with these sports, wouldn't it make sense to wear a helmet while ice skating as well?" said Dina Morrissey, MD, program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center.
The Injury Prevention Center offers the following safety tips to help prevent unintentional ice-related injuries:
- Make sure ice skates fit comfortably and provide ankle support. Poor fitting skates can cause blisters. Lack of ankle support makes ankles wobbly and can lead to injuries.
- Inexperienced skaters should learn some ice skating basics, which include learning how to stop and fall safely, as well as basic safety rules.
- Always look where you are going, even when skating backward.
- Always obey rink rules, such as skating in the same direction as other skaters.
- Always be alert and aware of surroundings. Never wear earphones or talk on a cell phone while ice skating.
- Wear a helmet. This is especially important for young children or beginner skaters.
- Consider wearing other safety equipment such as knee pads and wrist guards, especially young children and inexperienced skaters.
- Dress appropriately to avoid cold-related injury.
- Make sure you rest when you become tired or cold. More skating accidents happen when you're tired.
When skating on an outdoor pond or lake you should also take the following precautions:
- Never skate on an untested lake or pond.
- The ice should be a minimum of six inches thick to be safe.
- Never skate alone. Children should always be supervised by an adult.
- Only skate during the day or if the area is lit.
- Have a cell phone available to call for help if necessary.
- Never cross a frozen pond as a shortcut.
- Never go out on a frozen pond after an animal.