Falls during sport and recreational activities are common among teens and pre-teens.

Falls or collisions during sports and recreation activities are the leading cause of hospitalization due to injury for Canadians under 20 years of age. Injuries from falls can be prevented by using the right equipment, taking precautions and following the rules.

Activities that have an increased risk of falls include:

  • Cycling
  • Inline skating, skateboarding and scootering
  • Hockey
  • Ice skating
  • Downhill skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Trampolines
Cycling is the leading cause of sports and recreation injuries in Canada.

Cycling

The most common injuries that occur during cycling are fractures (32%) and head injuries (14%). When riding a bike you and your family should:

  • Wear a helmet for every ride, even if you are just going down the street or to the park. A properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85-88%.
  • Make sure that your helmet meets safety standards from CPSC, CSA, ASTM or Snell.
  • If you are a parent, you should always wear a helmet when cycling. You are important to your family and need to protect yourself. You are also a strong role model for your children.
  • Wear helmets correctly and always fasten the straps. Follow the 2-V-1 rule: only 2 fingers should fit between your eyebrows and the helmet, the straps should form a V around your ears, and only 1 finger should fit between your chin and the chin strap.
  • Learn the rules of the road such as hand signals, how to use bike lanes and navigate traffic.
  • Wear bright colours and reflective clothing so you can be seen by other road traffic.
  • Remember that younger children should always cycle with a parent. Before age 9 most children do not have the maturity and skills to cycle safely on the road alone.

Inline skating, skateboarding and scootering

The most common injuries during inline skating, skateboarding and scootering are broken arms and sprains/strains due to falling.

When inline skating, skateboarding or riding a scooter:

  • Choose the right helmet for your activity. Bike helmets can be used for cycling, scooters, and inline skating, and skateboard helmets should be worn for inline tricks and skateboarding. Multi-sport helmets are designed for several activities.
  • Wear your helmet correctly and always fasten the straps. Follow the 2-V-1 rule: only 2 fingers should fit between your eyebrows and the helmet, the straps should form a V around your ears, and only 1 finger should fit between your chin and the chin strap.
  • Wear wrist guards to prevent breaking your wrist or forearm if you fall while inline skating or skateboarding. Wrist guards should not be worn when using a scooter since you need to move your wrists to control the handle bars.
  • Parents should always supervise children between 5-10 years of age
  • Children under the age of 5 should not use a skateboard as they do not have the required maturity and skills.
  • Ride in a safe place that has a smooth surface and is away from traffic. Use skateboard parks for doing tricks, not homemade ramps. Do not ride at night or in wet weather.
  • Wear closed-toe, slip-resistant shoes, do not wear headphones, and never hold onto a moving bike, bus or car.
Hockey is the winter activity that sends children and youth to emergency departments most often.

Hockey and Ice Skating

Injuries during hockey occur due to falls or collisions with other players, the boards, sticks or the puck. There is a wide range of injuries that occur during hockey. Head and neck injuries are the most serious (13%) and fractures are the most common (24%).

When ice skating or playing hockey:

  • Always wear a CSA approved hockey helmet when playing hockey or ice skating.
  • Hockey players should wear helmet with a face mask, a mouth guard, gloves and protective elbows, pads and shoulder pads.
  • Ensure skates are comfortable and have good ankle support.
  • Skate in the same direction as everyone else on the ice when public skating.
  • Supervise young children and be sure they have access to proper support by holding your hand or the outside of the rink.
  • Always have an adults check the thickness of ice on an outdoor lake or pond before skating on it. Ice should be 10 cm (4” inches) thick for skating alone or 20 cm (8 inches) thick for skating parties or games. Stay away from ice near open water.

Skiing and snowboarding

Most serious injuries and deaths in skiing and snowboarding are due to collisions with trees and lift equipment.

Skiers are most likely to be injured in collisions, whereas, snowboarders are most likely to be injured due to falling. Snowboarders commonly injure their wrists when they fall and skiers commonly injure their legs, especially their knees. Head and neck injuries are also increasing in these sports and can lead to death or permanent disability.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that when you are skiing or snowboarding:

  • Wear a helmet and goggles for skiing and snowboarding
  • Wear wrist guards while snowboarding.
  • Ensure all of the equipment is adjusted and fits you properly, especially bindings.
  • Take lessons and practice on easier runs before moving onto more challenging ones. Supervise your children and choose a run that is appropriate for your child’s ability.
  • Know the Alpine Responsibility Code and take the recommended safety precautions.
The Canadian Pediatric Society strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home.

Falls from trampolines can lead to very serious injuries including fractures, dislocations and head and neck injuries. Somersaults and flips on a trampoline are the most common causes of neck injuries and many of these injuries are severe and permanent.

If you choose to use a trampoline, even though they are not recommended:

  • Place the trampoline on the ground, on a level surface, in an open clear area.
  • Have adequate protective padding around the trampoline that is in good condition and is placed appropriately.
  • Inspect protective padding and net enclosure regularly, and replace all damaged parts immediately. Trampolines should not be used until all damaged parts have been replaced.
  • Children on trampolines should always be actively supervised by adults familiar with safety recommendations.
  • Only allow one child on the trampoline at a time.
  • Do not perform somersaults or flips.