Alberta health officials say too many children are suffering preventable injuries while riding ATVs.
From the start of April last year to this year, 78 children were hurt on all-terrain vehicles, with 31 needing hospitalization and one child dying, said Dr. Christine Kennedy, a medical officer of health in Calgary.
She said families using ATVs need to make plans to be as safe as possible by getting properly trained, wearing the correct gear and always using helmets approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
"Every single ATV injury is potentially preventable," Kennedy said. "And so, every one that occurs is one too many."
From 2002 to 2013, 41 per cent of ATV-rider deaths in Alberta were due to head injuries. In 77 per cent of these head injury deaths, the ATV riders were not wearing a helmet, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said in a release.
Kennedy said ATVs are simply not designed for children and kids are at greater risk for head and neck injuries when they ride them.
"I believe it is an awareness issue amongst parents," she said.
AHS advises parents not to allow children under 16 to ride ATVs, even those marketed as child-sized.
Youth 16 and over should take the following precautions:
- Get trained before riding ATVs.
- Wear the right gear, including a helmet, jacket, long pants, goggles, boots and gloves.
- Be aware of the weather forecast, wildfire risks and any hazards on the trails.
- Equip the ATV with a head lamp.
- Wear a restraint.
- Never drink and ride.
- Before heading out, tell someone where you're going and when you plan to return.