Summer gives families the chance to enjoy the outdoors on their bikes. While inflating the tires and checking the brakes are important, a helmet is essential. Safe Kids Fayette County, led by Kentucky Children’s Hospital, urges parents, caregivers, and children to use their helmet each time they ride their bike—no matter how short the trip.
Each year, about 135 children die from bicycle-related injuries and more than 267,000 nonfatal bicycle injuries occur. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent; however, only 15 percent to 25 percent of children 14 and under usually wear them.
“A bike helmet is essential safety gear,” says Sherri Hannan, coordinator of Safe Kids Fayette County. “Helmets could prevent an estimated 75 percent of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year.”
Sometimes children mistakenly believe they don’t need to wear helmets while riding near home. Unfortunately, about 53 percent of vehicle-related bike deaths to children happen on minor roads and residential streets.
“Teach kids to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road. Kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules,” Hannan says.
A helmet should also be labeled to indicate that it meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
For more information, call Safe Kids Fayette County at (859) 323-1153 or visit www.safekids.org.
A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and should not move loosely. The straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly.
Kids should not wear bike helmets on the playground (where straps can get caught on equipment and cause injury) or for activities that require specialized helmets, such as skiing or football.
Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and lights.
The staff at a bicycle shop or outdoor recreation store can provide expert advice on adjusting bikes and helmets.