Memo to the Scooter Set: Better Dorky Than Dead

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OK, kids! Is your Razor ready for fall? More important, are you ready to fall off your Razor? That's not a threat; it's a warning: According to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries from the Razor and other brands of those ubiquitous scooters have zoomed into the stratosphere. Nearly 10,000 emergency-room visits are attributed to the little aluminum toys so far this year. And here's the tough news for parents: More than 90 percent of those ER patients have been younger than 15.

And the red-hot fad shows no sign of braking; scooters are the vehicular equivalent of mosquitoes. They're everywhere: on the streets, running afoul of moving cars; on the sidewalks, running into pedestrians' legs; in parking lots, distracting drivers trying to park; and even taking up valuable bike space on stands outside office buildings. Not to be outdone by their diminutive counterparts, so-called grown-ups are snapping up the toys at a brisk pace as well, sending manufacturers into cash-induced raptures.

So what's a parent to do as kids zip back to school atop the latest craze? Think safety: Due to their small size and insubstantial weight, the scooters are hard to handle. Bumps or rocks on the pavement can cause small fry to lose their balance and fall, which means anything from scraped knees to fractured skulls. Tuesday's report advises parents to wrap protective gear around their kids' limbs and to insist on helmets. Of course, the extra padding may not add to the all-important "cool" factor, but it could be the difference between a fall and a fatality.