Bike Helmet Safety

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Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. That’s why it’s so important for both adults and kids to wear a bike helmet. Wearing one doesn’t mean you can be reckless, but a helmet will provide some protection for the face, head and brain in case of a fall. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness offers bike helmet safety information for children and families to help prevent injuries and hospitalizations due to bike accidents.

About 50 children visit emergency rooms every hour for injuries due to bike, scooter, skate and skateboard accidents. For children ages 5 to 14, bike-related injuries result in more emergency room visits than any other sport, according to Safe Kids USA.

Helmet Basics

Using a bicycle helmet should not be optional for anyone in your family, no matter where you are riding or how short the ride. In many states, wearing a helmet is the law.

Here’s why: Many bike accidents involve a head injury, so a crash could mean permanent brain damage or death for someone who doesn’t wear a helmet while riding. Each year in the U.S., about half a million kids are seriously injured in bicycle-related accidents, and most of those injuries could have been avoided if a helmet were worn. To protect against brain injury, make sure your kids wear a correctly fitting helmet on every ride.

How to Choose a Bicycle Helmet

  • Pick bright or fluorescent colors that are visible to drivers and other cyclists.
  • Choose a helmet that’s well-ventilated.
  • Make sure the helmet has a CPSC or Snell sticker inside. These indicate that the helmet meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit group that tests helmet safety.
  • Make sure your child’s helmet fits correctly and can be adjusted.

Any bicycle store should be able to help you find a well-fitting helmet and adjust it properly. When your child wears a helmet, make sure the straps are fastened and that they don’t wear anything, such as a hat, underneath the helmet.

Replace helmets made before 1999. Also, replace a helmet if your child hits any surface hard while wearing it — helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock after taking serious hits.

Most helmets are made for one specific type of activity — for example, special helmets are made for inline skating, baseball and snowmobiling. Some bike helmets can be used as protection for other activities, but in general, they’re best suited to biking. Kids should not wear any helmet when they’re on a playground or climbing a tree — there is a risk of strangulation from the chin strap during these types of activities.

Take the Helmet Fit Test

  • Eyes: Put the helmet on your head. Look up. You should see the bottom rim of the helmet.
  • Ears: Make sure the straps form a “V” under yours ears when buckled. The straps should be a little tight but comfortable.
  • Mouth: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Does the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten the straps.

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