The Christmas festivities are well underway, and with them a mountain of gifts that many lucky children find under their Christmas trees on the morning of 6 January. Many of these gifts will include bicycles, skates and skateboards, scooters and other kinds of electric vehicles, whether toys or for more adult use, and alongside them there should always be the appropriate protective gear so they can be enjoyed in the maximum possible safety.
There are very specific protective items for these kinds of gifts to protect children and, as far as possible, prevent the most common injuries. Falls from bicycles, skates or skateboards are a frequent occurrence and form part of the process of learning to use them, so it is even more important that children are equipped with helmets, elbow and knee pads and even gloves to avoid hand abrasions.
Generally speaking, protective gear is different when it comes to cycling or skating (whatever the type). In the case of cycling, helmets are usually ventilated and protect users from the more typical falls that affect children who are learning to ride a bike, such as losing their balance. Don't forget that it is mandatory for children to wear a helmet when riding a bike up to the age of 16.
In the case of skating, the fundamental difference is that helmets are not usually ventilated and provide greater protection at the front of the head, where an impact can be very serious, as falls are a very common occurrence when skating, whatever the type.
In the case of skates for young children, it is highly advisable to get them accustomed from the very first day to wearing elbow pads, wristbands, knee pads and a helmet before they go skating. This protective gear will mean any beginner's falls will be minor rather than potentially serious, such as if a child hits their head on the edge of a curb, for example.
In the case of bicycles, skates and any other kind of recreational vehicle, buying the right protective gear and ensuring that children are used to using it at all times before they start playing is absolutely essential to ensure that everything remains exactly that - recreational.
Wheeled sneakers should be treated like skates
We wanted to include a specific section here to talk about wheeled sneakers, or skate shoes, which are all the rage among children right now and are just as dangerous as skates. The danger is actually even greater, as people think of them as sneakers rather than skates. In other words, many parents treat them as sneakers and children are allowed to wear them at any time: at school, at home, to go out for a walk or to play.
The truth is that they should be treated as skates and never used like regular sneakers for everyday activities. The reasons for this are very simple: as they have a wheel in the heel section, whenever the child lifts the toe they end up skating and hence incurring exactly the same risks as if they were on regular skates... but as they are viewed as sneakers, it's very unlikely that they are wearing any form of protection and are thus at greater risk of injury.
The pediatrician José María Carmona Ponce explains very clearly on his blog the dangers of wheeled sneakers, putting a particular emphasis on the most frequent injury - to the wrists - and noting that most of these injuries occur within the first few hours of using the sneakers. They should therefore be seen as skates and the appropriate protective gear must be worn.