Warmer weather means more time outside and long sunny days. This yields many benefits – less screen time, fun outdoor activities and a chance for the whole family to exercise together. When your plans call for children and teens to take to their wheels – bicycle, scooter or otherwise – it is imperative that they consistently and correctly wear a helmet.
There are many emergency room visits annually in The United States for bicycle related trauma, a majority of which involve injuries of the head and face. It is well established that helmet use is proven to prevent bicycle related head injuries.
- Helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injury by about 80%. Helmet use reduces the risk of injuries to the mid and upper face by about 65%.
- Every year, about 450,000 children are treated in emergency departments for bicycle related injuries. Of these, 153,000 are for head injuries.
- These head injuries are usually the more serious, and result in the majority of bicycle related deaths.
- Unfortunately, only about 25% of children use helmets all or most of the time while cycling.
Source: Joel Bass, MD. “Bicycle Helmets”. Performing Preventative Services: A Bright Futures Handbook. Pages 161-162. American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Helmets should fit square on the head and cover mid-way down the forehead./li>
- Chin straps should fit snugly below the chin./li>
- Helmets should not ride down over the eyes./li>
- Helmets should not be pushed back on the head and should not expose the forehead./li>
- CDC created a helpful acronym to help you remember how to fit a helmet:/li>
Size-Measure around the head just above the brow for accurate sizing.
Ask-Try it on to be sure there are no spaces between the padding and the head
Fit-Should not slip on the head or fall over the eyes
Evaluate-Yawning should pull on the top of the head, if not it’s too loose
Source: CDC Heads Up Program. “Get A Heads Up On Bicycle Helmet Safety”.
Helmet Selection, Storage & Care:
- Check the label. Only purchase a helmet approved by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
- Store the helmet in a protected place, free of temperature extremes and away from direct sunlight. Never store it in your vehicle.
- Check with the manufacturer before altering the helmet in any way – even stickers and spray paint could impact efficacy in the event of a crash.
- Replace helmets that have been involved in an accident or crash, even if damage is not visible. Helmets are designed for singular impact protection.
- Replace helmets that have obvious damage such as cracks or peeling pads.
The Bottom Line:
- Programs are available in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas to help families in need obtain helmets for free or at a discounted rate.
- It is equally important for adults in the family to wear helmets. Your children look to you as role models! Your children’s habits are created directly from them observing your behavior.
- Wear a helmet correctly every time.
Stay safe – and make sure those family memories are happy ones!