In-Line Skating

We recently received a call to check on aggressive in-line skating at camps. The questions and the answers that have been sought out are as follows:

Is there an increase in injury resulting from aggressive in-line skating at camps?

There are no statistics available for injuries resulting from this activity at camps. Nationally, in 1996 there were 103,000 people treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from in-line skating. Most people are likely to suffer broken wrists, but head injuries are also a problem. Sources at several agencies have said that they have not witnessed any increase in injuries due to in-line skating. However, they may not be recognizing them. One camp that had an insurance visit this summer had twenty-one injuries from in-line skating. The injuries were minor, but no one at the camp had realized the frequency of injuries resulting from this activity. There have been no indications of serious injuries resulting from in-line skating at camps. Injuries, including causes and locations, resulting from skating activities should be reported to the camp nurse and documented to determine problem areas.

Have any steps been taken to curtail aggressive in-line skating or define appropriate supervision or safety standards?

There have been supervision and safety standards defined in regard to skating and skateboarding. The Boy Scouts of America have skating guidelines in place that are covered in their Guide to Safe Scouting. The same guidelines are advocated by insurance companies, The Consumer Protection Safety Commission, and the International In-Line Skating Association. The basic guidelines for safe skating are:

  1. There should be adequate, trained adult supervision. The Boy Scouts of America require skating at any level to be supervised by an adult at least twenty-one years old who is experienced in the use of skates.

  2. Safety gear should always be worn. The basic safety gear list includes a helmet, wrist, elbow, and knee pads.

  3. Skating instruction is important and may help the novice skater to learn the sport and skills required to skate safely. For instance, learning to stop safely by using the brake pads, judgment and the ability to avoid obstacles, etc. There are currently more than 2,000 certified in-line skating instructors teaching in the United States.

  4. The design of the skate should match the skaters skill level. Three and four-wheel skates are good for novices and intermediate skaters. Five-wheel skates are high performance, extremely low friction, and should only be used by experienced skaters. These types of skates are typically used in competition and for long-distance skating.

  5. Skates should be well maintained and in good repair. The skating supervisor should check skates before allowing their use to make sure the brake pads are not worn down and that the wheels are worn symmetrically and turn freely.

  6. Trails should be smooth and kept free of sand, dust, gravel, leaves, twigs and water. There should be good drainage so puddles don’t form. The skating supervisor should evaluate the area before allowing for its use.

  7. Designated skating areas should be free of pedestrian and vehicular traffic and hazardous fixed objects (e.g., if tennis and basketball courts are nearby, tennis net posts and basketball goal posts need to be on the outside of the fenced area as should all benches and excess equipment).

  8. There should be posted rules that are understood by the children and enforced impartially by the skating supervisor.

  9. It is a good idea to get consent for participation in the activity from the parent or legal guardian.

  10. NEVER allow "truck skating" or "skitching," which involves hitching a ride by hanging on to a moving vehicle. This activity has been the cause of numerous deaths and should be prohibited under any circumstances.

  11. Though construction standards may not be developed yet regarding equipment tubes and ramps, camps need to be very careful about building materials, heights and inspections/maintenance. It is important to realize that some materials are not suitable for building skating equipment. For instance, plywood tends to shatter and nails work loose

Are states taking any action with regard to this activity?

There is no indication that states are taking any legislative action regarding in-line skating. However, some municipalities have banned in-line skating and skateboarding in public places.

Originally published in the 1999 Fall issue of The CampLine.