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Small-Wheeled Devices Injury Bulletin

Kidsafe WA has recently released the Childhood Injury Bulletin: Small-Wheeled Devices. An average of 547 children present to the Perth Children’s Hospital Emergency Department for a small-wheeled device-related injury each year. This accounts for 3 percent of all injury presentations during the five year period.

Small-wheeled devices are popular methods of recreation and non-motorised transportation for children. Small-wheeled devices refer to skateboards, scooters, roller blades and roller skates. Although use can have numerous health benefits, the high speeds and minimal breaking mechanisms limit the child’s control of the device, increasing the likelihood of injuries occurring. 

The risk of small-wheeled device-related injuries is prominent for all children. However, males aged 10 to 14 represented the greatest number of injury presentations. This is largely attributed to the tendency for males to participate in greater risk taking behaviours and higher levels of physical activity. Only 5.6 percent of children injured while riding a small-wheeled device were reported as wearing a helmet. Though helmet use is not legally required when using small-wheeled devices, it is highly recommended for children to reduce the risk of head and neck injuries.

The following steps can help decrease the risk of small-wheeled device-related injuries for children:

  • Wear a helmet. Select a helmet that complies with the current Australian Standards and fits the child’s head properly.
  • Purchase and use protective equipment such as elbow, wrist and knee guards.
  • Avoid poorly made products. Check the quality, durability and functionality of products prior to purchase.
  • Conduct regular maintenance checks. The devices brakes, locking mechanisms and handlebar grips should be checked. Sharp edges and protrusions on the device should be eliminated prior to use.
  • Teach children how to use the device and practice in a safe place away from roads, slopes and driveways.
  • Ensure the child is supervised. Learners and children under the age of 10 should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Identify safe places. Check with local council for locations of skate parks and ramps in the area away from roads and traffic.
  • Use footpaths and shared paths. A footpath or shared path is optimal for children. Riders must keep to the left and give-way to pedestrians.
  • Avoid use of the device on roads. The inadequate brake mechanisms and presence of other vehicles increases the risk of injury.
  • Wear bright coloured clothing. Users should wear clothing that is highly visible to road users. This can include the use of reflective tape, reflectors, flashing lights and visibility flags.

To view the full report visit: https://www.kidsafewa.com.au/professionals/wa-childhood-injury-bulletins-reports/