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Scooter Crazy

"Hula hoops, lava lamps, pet rocks, pogo sticks and now scooters fill part of the long list of trends that have taken America by storm. Still riding off this summer's wave of popularity, scooters will be found under many Christmas trees this year. The scooter craze has already hit the streets of Oak Harbor and Coupeville.There was a huge rush after Thanksgiving, Oak Harbor Wal-Mart employee Jason Windsor said. We were sold out for a week and a half.Eric Bjornstad, 14, and his brother Michael, 12, bought scooters in September.You can do tricks and jumps and they go fast, Eric said. It's more of a fun thing, but they're also good for transportation. The scooters' versatility seems to be their selling point.They're so small and light, and you can do so much with them, Michael said. You can get them almost anywhere. I've even seen 7-11 sell them.The brothers, who attend North Whidbey Middle School, even said that the schools allow scooters to be brought to school, and some teachers will hold them for students during the school day.The two-wheel vehicles are fairly affordable, too. Wal-Mart sells scooters ranging in price from about $39 to $96. Windsor said that the prices don't necessarily reflect quality as much as brand name, and that some of them are really well built. Razor scooters, which is the company that is known for sparking the national trend, sell for about $88. K-Mart sells Extreme Limits scooters for about $70.With so many scooters out on the streets and sidewalks, injuries can occur. You can get hurt really bad, Michael said. My friend got a bloody nose, and his face got all scraped up from falling.Most kids seem willing to face the small chance of getting hurt to have some fun.Scooters aren't the only gift craze for kids this holiday season. Some other hot Christmas gifts that are much safer include high-tech, interactive dogs and dolls, such as the Poo-Chi Interactive Puppy from Tiger Electronics for $30 and Playmates' Amazing Baby for $45.The Sony PlayStation 2 is one of the most sought after, expensive and hardest to find items on many kids' and adults' wish lists. Since its American release in October, the $299.99 video game console/DVD players consistently sell out wherever they are sold. They were in such high demand after the initial release that PlayStation 2s were being sold on E-Bay, the online auction site, for at least double the retail price.Since Sony has stepped up production, Wal-Mart has been getting in about five PlayStation 2s in a week.It's kind of hard to get our hands on them, and they usually sell by the afternoon if not within a couple of hours of the store's opening, Windsor said.-------------Safety SidebarWith the boom in scooter popularity, a boom also comes in scooter-related injuries. The American Physical Therapy Association has developed safety guidelines for riding scooters. The organization says that a padded helmet, kneepads, elbow pads and wrist guards are musts for full protection. Broken and sprained wrists have become common because people tend to break a fall by putting their arms down first. Two types of knee injuries are also frequently reported: hard falls on the kneecap, which can do long-lasting damage to the bone, ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint; and stretches or tears to the medical collateral ligament that runs along the knee joint.The kids' Internet site operated by Consumer Reports magazine at www.zillions.org rates scooters and urges riders to wear helmets. The site editors also provide other safety tips: learn how to stop, bend your knees slightly when riding, and keep your weight low and centered over the middle of the scooter. Standing up straight or leaning back increases your chances of wiping out. "

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