Sneaker-Skates and Safety

You know what is disconcerting? Seeing small children darting about in a store and realizing that while it looks like they are wearing regular shoes, they are skating. They’ll have these shoes on with wheels in the heels. When they start up and scoot around they go very fast, and I can’t tell where they are going next.

How safe is this trend? It’s called “heeling,” after the brand of a popular type of these wheeled shoes. You don’t go all that fast in them, and the kids aren’t required to wear helmets. But you know what? Plenty of kids end up in the emergency room from heeling. There are plenty of reasons why this trend is resulting in scads of injuries. Wheeled anything, used without a helmet, is just begging for a major head injury.

Speed is only part of the problem. Kids wearing these shoes also have to contend with obstacles. Not all obstacles can jump out of the way, and navigation on wheeled shoes isn’t the easiest thing.

Lots of kids are ending up with broken bones or dislocated joints. The shoes seem innocent enough, but think about what our natural reaction to falling is. Don’t you reach out and try to catch yourself? Kids often end up with wrist and lower arm breaks, or even dislocated elbows. Head injuries are also common and are quite serious.

Before you buy these shoes, stop to think for a minute. Picture kids using the shoes, or watch them at it the next time you have the opportunity. Picture what happens when the children are using the shoes in a crowded area. Even good kids aren’t going to be super careful watching out for other people. That is not a failure of parenting, it’s just the nature of young kids.

The effect is still the same. When you have young kids darting in and out and weaving through crowds, sooner or later they are going to encounter someone who has mobility issues. An elderly person or someone with a physical impairment may be unable to move out of the way in time, and both parties in this situation can end up hurt.

Sure, wheeled shoes can be a lot of fun. And they aren’t always going to cause physical injury. Still, take a few moments to consider all of the issues before you decide about whether or not to purchase these shoes.