Spring is here! Children and adults are riding their bikes, rollerblading, skateboarding and ATVing and having fun. That fun, however, could quickly turn to tragedy if they are not wearing a helmet. Do you ride your bike without a helmet? Do you allow your children/teens to ride their bike or other wheeled equipment without a helmet? If so, please rethink that decision.
According to a recent publication, every year about 350,000 children under the age of 15 are rushed to the hospital emergency room with injuries from bicycle incidents. Think about the number of injuries that can occur from not wearing a helmet when doing the other activities! Many of the injuries sustained are head injuries. Some of these brain injuries can cause brain damage and lifelong disability. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a bicycle helmet is estimated to reduce the risk of head injuries by 85 percent. Burley, a leading manufacturer of child bicycle trailers, suggests that a child even wear a helmet when they are in a bicycle trailer. Wearing a helmet at a young age gets them into a healthy habit, just like wearing a seat belt.
Parents may ask what brand of bicycle helmet they should use. Since February 1999, all helmets have to meet the safety standards issued by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Just as when fitting an adult’s helmet, the important aspect of wearing a helmet is the fit, not the brand. One aspect of a helmet is how many air vent holes are on it. The more air vent holes, the cooler the helmet is to wear. Do not buy a used helmet as you may not be able to detect whether the helmet has been damaged. Sometimes fire departments and/or health departments have days when they give out free helmets and/or sell helmets at a reduced cost. As should go without saying, the cost of the helmet is much less than taking a child or you to the emergency room and/or experiencing a head trauma.
Keep in mind, however, that there are times when a bicycle helmet can be dangerous. The helmets are a required safety device when the children are on their bikes. However, as I learned many years ago, the child’s helmet should be removed when they are playing, especially on a playground. When my children were very young, one of my daughters was playing on the monkey bars and put her body through the holes between the bars. Her helmet, with her head inside it, got stuck above the monkey bars and her body was dangling towards the ground. Luckily, my husband saw what was happening, ran and released her by pushing her body up through the monkey bars. Other children have been strangled by the child straps when their bicycle helmets got stuck in play equipment. Therefore, when your child is not on the bicycle, please remove the bicycle helmet.
We all enjoy spring in Indiana. Let’s enjoy it while providing safety for ourselves and our children.