1 - Wear Protective GearI know a lady who has a rule for her kids - if there are wheels under your feet, there's a helmet on your head. That's not a bad way to go! Helmets are the best protection you can get - the most important part. I know of another guy, a teacher in my home town. He went skateboarding at the skatepark one day, fell, and hit his head. Not even that hard. But now he's a vegetable.
Wear a helmet!!
And buckle it! I was at the Free Flow Tour finals, and I saw a guy fall and smack his head on the ramps - he had a helmet on, but it wasn't buckled. It flew off right before impact. He was out of the rest of the contest. Wear a helmet!
You can also wear knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. If you are brand new, or if you are over the age of 20, I would recommend at least starting with some of these pads:
- Wrist Guards - they help keep you from breaking your wrists when you fall. The problem with wrist guards is that you can get too used to them, and start relying on them. Instead, you should re-train yourself to roll to a shoulder when you fall, and not catch yourself with your hands.
- Knee Pads - knee pads are used mostly for ramp and vert skating, but they can be useful in a park, and sometimes even on the street. It all depends on how you learn to fall (more on that later!).
- Elbow Pads - Again, better for ramps, when you might take larger spills. In street skating, you shouldn't hit your elbow too much. But you can. And it can hurt. My cousin busted his elbow once going off a kicker ramp, and they almost had to amputate the arm! That's a little extreme, and hopefully nothing like that will ever happen to you. By the way, he's fine now. We prayed a lot, and he got better. He has a huge wicked scar though!
- Cup - yes, for you boys out there who want to protect your boys, a cup is a good idea if you are going to try to grind rails higher than your knees. They're uncomfortable, but not as "uncomfortable" as rolling around on the ground, grasping your groin, crying, and looking awesome in front of the ladies.
2 - Have a Safety MindsetMore than just wearing pads, skateboard safety is about acting safe, and being aware of what you are doing and your surroundings. Here are some ideas:
- Be aware of your surroundings. While skateboarding, notice who else is around, and don't get in other people's way. And don't stop in the middle of the skatepark!
- Be aware of your abilities. If you've never tried a trick before, take it easy the first few times you give it a shot. Don't push yourself too fast - relax and enjoy learning to skateboard. Be aware of how good you actually are, and progress at your own speed. Don't worry about it!
- Don't push through tiredness and pain. If you are exhausted, then give yourself a break! Pro skater Rob Dyrdek, in the instructional video "Show Me The Way", talks about how most of his injuries skateboarding are because he knew he was tired, but kept pushing.
- Don't do anything stupid. This is just a good general rule to go by, in skateboarding and in life! Some stupidity can be fun, but generally, you know when you are doing something that can result in injury.
3 - Skate in Safe PlacesThere are definitely places that are more safe to skateboard than others. Skateparks, with a skate club, or on your own property - these are generally good places to skateboard. Parking lots can be a good idea too, if the people who own the place don't mind.
There are also definitely bad places to skateboard. Back alleys, in the street, on private property - the places can get you injured, busted, or even info a fight if you are skateboarding in a rough area.
Of course, some times the rough places can be the skatepark. Be aware when you go there of what the place is like, and who skates there.
Skate clubs are a great place to skate in relative safety. Even better than skateparks. Ask around at your local skate shop about skate clubs, and if there isn't one, start a skate club in your area!
4 - It's Your ResponsibilityThese are all great ideas to help keep you or your skateboarder safe, but they are only suggestions. No one can make a skater be safe - it's up to the skater to take responsibility and keep themselves safe.
You should know your own limits. If you push yourself too far because you want to impress a girl or your friends, there's a good chance you'll get hurt. There are plenty of videos out there about skateboarders doing that!
You should not rely on other people to keep you safe - it's up to you! When something goes wrong, when someone gets hurt, our tendency can be to look for someone to blame. Take responsibility, and take care of yourself. If you are afraid of getting hurt, read this article about being afraid of getting hurt.
Most people, even kids, know what to do to keep safe. These suggestions, coupled with your own common sense, should make you as safe as possible.