AHS encourages Albertans to walk, wheel and bike safely

Safe Kids Week runs May 30 to June 5

submitted by Alberta Health Services

It’s Safe Kids Week, and Alberta Health Services is encouraging safe and active transportation as families walk, bike and wheel in their communities — this week and always.

While exercise outdoors is always beneficial to the body, it comes with risks if proper safety and equipment measures aren’t considered. These risks can result in severe injury. In 2020, more than 2,400 Albertans ages one to nine years sustained collision-related cycling injuries resulting in emergency department and urgent care visits. This was a 45 per cent increase from the previous year, with head injuries being the most common reason for hospital visits. Injuries related to walking and skateboarding are also common reasons for hospital visits.

Here are a few ways adults can help their child reduce the risk of injury during pedestrian, cycling, scootering and skateboarding activities.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Young children should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing the street.
  • Talk to your child about being a safe pedestrian while you walk with them, starting when they are toddlers. Use the sidewalk, cross at crosswalks, and walk without distractions (don’t text and walk).
  • Teach your child the rules of the road for pedestrians:
    • Stop before stepping onto the road.
    • Look left, right and left again.
    • Indicate intent to cross.
    • Listen for traffic before stepping out into the street.
    • Wait until the way is clear, or all cars have come to a full stop before walking.
  • Children’s ability to cross safely by themselves is based on their stage of development. A child should demonstrate and know how to use crosswalks and to judge traffic. These skills develop between the ages of 9 and 11.

Cycling Safety

  • Make sure your child wears protective gear.
  • It’s the law in Alberta that anyone younger than 18 years must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, or travelling in a bike trailer or carrier.
  • Make sure your child’s bike helmet meets current, approved helmet safety standards. Look for a CSA, Snell or ASTM sticker to know if the helmet is approved.
  • Take the AHS Bike Helmet YES Test to learn how to properly fit your child’s helmet. You can find the YES Test on MyHealth.Alberta.ca (search for bike helmets).
  • Know your child’s bike A, B, Cs!  A – air in the tires; B – brakes, bar, and bell: make sure brakes and bell are working, and handlebars are the right height; C – chain: it should be tight and well lubed.
  • To help determine readiness to cycle alone, assess your child’s ability to understand road safety, judge traffic and avoid major risks.
  • Lead by example. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to wear their helmet while riding with their children. 

Skateboarding and Scootering Safety

  • Choose the right helmet for the right activity. Some multi-sport helmets meet safety standards for more than one activity. There are also helmets just for skateboarding. Learn how to wear a helmet properly and other helmet tips.
  • Wear wrist guards when skateboarding and inline skating. They can help prevent broken bones and sprains.
  • Don’t wear wrist guards while scootering as they might interfere with controlling the scooter.
  • Elbow pads and kneepads may also help reduce the risk of injuries when skateboarding, inline skating and scootering.
  • Check the skateboard, inline skates and scooter to make sure all parts are working.
  • Use caution on shared pathways when pedestrians are present.

Safe Kids Week is an annual campaign developed by Parachute to raise public awareness of child safety issues in Canada, encouraging community involvement as part of the solution. The topic of 2022’s Safe Kids Week digital campaign is safe and active transportation for children under the theme #WalkBikeAndWheel.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.