Ice skating can be a great form of recreation and some very healthy exercise for children. However, like anything else kids need to learn how to enjoy skating in a safe way. Here are a few simple rules that everyone needs to follow for safe ice skating.

Teach your children to never touch the skate blade.

Skate blades are very sharp and even a casual, exploratory touch might be enough for a deep cut. The first few times it is recommended that you put the child’s skates on for them. After that supervise them until they get the hang of it. Teach your kids to respect skate blades as if they were very sharp knives.

Make sure your child’s skates fit properly.

Skates that are too large or too small have the potential to create accidents. Skates that are too small can also cause blisters. Also make sure the skates provide proper ankle support.

If at all possible take your beginning skater to a rink the first few times. Try and schedule your skate when the rink is less crowded.

You want to lower the possibility of someone accidentally skating into your child. With more room on the your beginning skater has a higher probability of gaining some experience and confidence. Many rinks have special times for beginners which a parent should take advantage of. Always skate with a new skater, never let them skate alone. Also make sure that you watch out for other skaters. There will be some skaters who may have a low level of awareness or are just plain careless. A collision with another skater could result in your child getting injured.

If you are considering ponds. Only skate in designated skating areas where the ice is known to be strong. Make sure you always check for cracks, holes, and debris on the ice. Most important, never skate alone.

Helmets are mandatory for beginning skaters.

Read these comments by Jessica Wasik, Pittsburgh Ice Skating. This was published in Examiner.com, November 1, 2010.

“First, invest in a high-quality helmet—and make sure your skater wears it properly! Parents usually take care to bundle their children with cushiony gloves and sweatshirts, but they often overlook the importance of head protection, particularly in Tot classes where children are still mastering on-ice balance, coordination, and muscle strength, many for the first time.

An American Academy of Pediatrics study in a July 2004 article in Pediatrics found that the majority of injuries to recreational ice skaters were to the head often caused by a skater falling backwards or sideways preventing skaters from using their arms to stop their fall. This study also determined that children age six and under have the greatest risk for head injuries possibly due to a higher center of gravity in younger children causing them to fall headfirst.

Helmets designed for bicycling and skateboarding are adequate but there is a published standard that you need to look for. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises looking for helmets that meet the ASTM Skateboard standard—“F 1492” certified—or dual-certified to bicycle and skateboard helmet standards. With multi-impact capability and additional protection toward the rear of the head, these helmets offer more safety than traditional bike helmets.

Ski helmets are another option. Although slightly more expensive, they are also warmer and provide similar impact protection as bicycle and skateboard helmets. Before you buy a helmet make sure it fits. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has useful tips on making sure your child’s helmet fits properly.”

Frostbite is always a potential danger with outdoor wintertime activities including ice skating on a pond or outdoor rink. Download this outstanding guide on Frostbite from Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus Ohio.