Good roller skate helmets are rarely the cheapest purchases you can make. Small wonder you’re wondering whether your kid really needs a helmet roller skating.
Related: Best Kids’ Roller Skates
Kids need to wear a certified skate helmet plus protective pads for the knees, elbows, and wrists. But if they can only wear one piece of protective equipment, let that be a certified roller skate helmet. Because children need brains to skate and wear any kind of protective gear!
Are Kids Required to Wear a Helmet Roller Skating?
In many places, there’s no law or regulation that explicitly require roller skate kids to wear a helmet. But because roller skating mishaps aren’t uncommon and skull fractures, elbow fractures, and wrist fractures happen, wearing a helmet roller skating as well as knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards make tons of sense.
Is Roller Skating a Dangerous Sport for Kids?
While roller skating injuries especially to wrists (the majority of fractures happen to the skater’s wrists) are pretty common, roller skating itself isn’t unsafe. At least, it’s safer than ice skating and marginally less dangerous than inline skating.
Here’s how I look at it: danger lurks everywhere, and risk is pretty much everywhere in this world. Electrical accidents can happen. Babies can get strangled by uncovered baby monitor cords (learn how to cover baby monitor cords here).
And kids can get hit by speeding cars or motorcycles when crossing a high-traffic street. But with a bit of thoughtful care and preparation, we can reduce the frequency of mishaps.
Take a look at the roller skating injury statistics in the next section to learn how rolling around on quad skates stacks against ice skating and inline skating as far as injuries and fractures.
A Look at Skating Injury Statistics
A huge study involving over 1,000,000 young skaters conducted over a span of 10 years had interesting findings. Falls account for the vast majority of skating injuries (83.1 percent).
Ice skating kids were more likely to get head injuries (13.3 percent) compared to inline skating kids (5 percent ) and roller skating youngsters (4.4 percent). These data show that falls are frequent, and while roller skating head injuries aren’t as common as are ice skating and inline skating injuries, they’re not uncommon.
Mishaps happen to real roller skate kids, and you never know who the next fall might harm. It could be someone else’s son or daughter and you might never know about it. Or it might someone you love intensely, your little angel.
Since it’s extremely difficult to know when disaster strikes, it makes complete sense to have your little one wear a decent helmet before strapping those skates onto their feet and heading out the door.
How Often Does Concussion Happen When Kids Roller Skate?
I don’t like talking about stuff like concussion, but life is what it is, and concussion sometimes happens. Let’s face it: if a child spills really hard roller skating and they don’t have a helmet on, there’s always a chance the blow to the head might culminate in a concussion.
But how frequent are roller skating-related concussions? Here’s good news! Only 0.6 percent of young roller skaters in the study above ended up with a concussion compared with 4.3 percent of ice skaters and 0.8 percent of inline skaters.
These findings show that a roller skate kid who hits their head in a crash is marginally less likely to get a concussion compared with a kid on inline skates. And kid ice skaters are substantially more likely than inline skaters and roller skaters to end up with a concussion.
But here’s one fact I need you to understand: kids who roller skate can and do get concussions. However, concussions aren’t common in roller skating. For this reason, it’s reasonable to say that roller skating isn’t an unsafe sport for children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s super important for kids to helmet up when roller skating, inline skating, or ice skating, and especially when ice skating.
Why should kids wear a helmet roller skating? To reduce the risk of head injuries when doing recreational skating.
Do Roller Skate Helmets Prevent Concussion in Kids?
According to the CDC, helmets are designed to prevent severe brain injury as well as skull fractures. However, wearing a helmet, even the best certified roller skate helmet, is no guarantee your kid won’t suffer a concussion. Anyone out there promoting any kind of a concussion-proof helmet is a charlatan whose behavior affronts all the decent marketers of the world.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) concurs saying:
No helmet design has been proven to prevent concussions. The materials that are used in most of today’s helmets are engineered to absorb the high impact energies that can produce skull fractures and severe brain injuries. However, these materials have not been proven to counteract the energies believed to cause concussions. Beware of claims that a particular helmet can reduce or prevent concussions.
These two are highly reputable American organizations, and both agree that helmeting up absorbs crash impacts and, helping minimize severe brain injuries and skull fractures. But both also state in no uncertain terms that having even the best roller skate in the world doesn’t and will not prevent concussion.
Do MIPS Roller Skate Helmets Prevent Concussion?
If you’ve been reading around the web, you must have come across assertions such as MIPS helmets potentially help prevent concussion. The keyword here is potentially (see the direct quote by MIPS below), which essentially means that all the research done so far hasn’t definitively proved that MIPS prevents concussion.
The reasoning behind these supposedly improved, better helmets is that they have this innovative helmet technology that tackles rotational impacts. And they claim that non-MIPS helmets aren’t great at dampening angular forces.
MIPS has been testing its technology at Stockholm-based Royal Institute of Technology for over 20 years. And here’s what MIPS says about its technology:
MIPS…adds a special layer to abate rotational motion and potentially reduce the risk for injuries like concussions…
These helmets often come in at a higher price point that similar non-MIPS options, and it seems like very company these days offers a MIPS version of pretty much every helmet model.
But here’s one question no one seems to ask: How come these companies are still making non-MIPS helmets? If MIPS helmets offer superior head protection, why make helmets that are less safe at all?
Using a MIPS roller skate helmet is harmless, though, and if adding an extra layer of unproven protection gives you extra peace of mind, why not?
Why Wear a Roller Skate Helmet If They Don’t Prevent Concussion?
Because while a helmet won’t prevent a brain from moving around after a big blow to the head, it can help reduce the risk of severe brain injury. In fact, wearing a certified roller skate helmet can save your kid’s life according to the CPSC.
Which Are the Best Kids Roller Skate Helmets?
The best roller skate helmet for kids is one that’s certified for roller skating. The best options tend to be ASTM F1492 and CPSC 1203 safety certified. As noted above, head injuries roller skating aren’t common, but when they happen, you want your little one to have a really good helmet on their small noggin.
Here’s a list of the best kids’ roller skate helmets you can buy today. They may not be perfect in every way, but they offer a safe secure fit to roller skating kids. Most look nice, and 1 or 2 come in kiddo-focused patterns or graphics. Also, the majority of these recommendations are available in all kids of hi-viz colors such as blue, neon green, yellow, and more.
And for the most part, you can use certified skateboard and inline skating helmets to ride roller skates. Here’s a list of good skateboard helmets for kids and here’s another list of decent kids’ lids for inline skating. Be sure to measure your child’s head before ordering to minimize the risk of buying a smaller or larger helmet size.
Should I Replace My Kid’s Roller Skate Helmet Every Time They Fall?
Roller skate helmets and most skate helmets for that matter are multi-impact helmets. Roller skating kids tend to fall more often than bike riders, but the impacts tend to be smaller.
If your child takes a mild fall, you really don’t need to replace the helmet. But if the crash is big enough to cause a crack or cracks on the helmet’s shell or a dent on the inner liner or foam, then you should discard the lid and replace it.
Most helmet brands says to replace a helmet every 3-5 years whether the user has fallen in it or not.
Does Your Kid Need Protective Knee Pads, Wrist Guards, and Elbow Pads?
It’s difficult to answer this super important question without analyzing upper limb injury statistics in kids. According to the research cited above, the vast majority of roller skating injuries affect the upper limbs namely forearms, hands, wrists, elbows, and fingers.
In the study, a staggering 53.9 percent of all roller skating injuries in kids were fractures happening to these upper body limbs. Inline skating kids saw significantly more fractures at 59.7 percent.
If these numbers don’t convince you to get a decent pad set for your little one, no amount of persuasion from this mom or anyone else ever will.
Do Protective Pads Actually Help Kids?
A study published in February 2000 compared roller skating and inline skating injuries in kids in Denmark. The research included 107 participants (a small study indeed) who presented at the Emergency Department of Esbjerg County Hospital.
The findings didn’t reveal any statistical difference in the kinds of injury participants in the two camps sustained. Most of the skaters in the study suffered minor injuries (60.4 percent) such as lacerations, bruises, and sprains).
But a staggering 39.6 percent of the injuries were fractures. And the majority of these severe injuries affected the wrists of both roller skaters and inline skaters.
Here’s where the results get interesting: only 20 percent of the participants wore protective equipment of any kind. And pretty much all of the fractures to the wrists and elbows happened to skaters (80 percent) who didn’t wear wrist guards and elbow pads.
Conclusion: wrist fractures happen a lot to kids and adults, and elbow fractures are also common. Since protective gear such as wrist pads and elbow pads can help minimize the impact to the affected body parts, it makes complete sense to have your child to wear them each time.
The Best Protective Pads for Kids
The folks at Skatingmagic.com have published a decent post on the best knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads for kids and adults.
And I recently put together a meaty resource on how to pick good knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards to keep those small delicate limbs protected.
In the post, I describe in detail how to measure the wrist circumference, palm circumference, and elbow circumference. You’ll learn everything you need to know when buying so you can pick out properly fitting protective equipment.
Putting It Together
While no law in many countries stipulate that kids wear a helmet when out roller skating, responsible parents always make sure their children don’t ride unprotected.
Caring parents invest finances to make sure their little ones own and wear a highly protective roller skate helmet as well as pad sets for protecting the knees, elbows, and wrists from crash impacts.
If you’ve been sitting on the fence on this issue, it’s time to order all of the protective equipment your kiddo needs. But don’t stop there: insist that they put the protection on each time they want to go out to skate.
Safe roller skating!