Did you know that more children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms
for injuries related to biking than any other sport? A crash or fall can
occur in a split-second and can happen anywhere; even in your back yard
or the sidewalk around your block. These types of accidents can potentially
have serious or fatal effects. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain
injuries by 88% yet only 45% of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet.
“Riding a bicycle is a great way for children to get exercise and
have fun at the same time. It’s important to remind kids to wear
a helmet, every ride every time. It is the single most effective way to
prevent head injury in the event of a bicycle crash”, said Kayla
Hefner, Child Health/Safety Specialist at the
Catawba Valley Medical Health First Center.
Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly.
A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should
not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always
be buckled, but not too tightly.
Safe Kids recommends kids take the Helmet Fit Test:
EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see
the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths
above the eyebrows.
EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under
your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet
hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is
flat against your skin.
Parents and caregivers are responsible for protecting children from dangers
they are unable to foresee. In the instance of bicycle safety it’s
important to teach them how to ride safely and ultimately enforce the
rules. Implementing these practices at an early age helps children develop
lasting safety habits for preventing injuries.
Having trouble getting your kids to wear a helmet? Try one of these methods
given by The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:
- Establish the helmet habit early when your children get their first bikes.
If they learn to wear helmets whenever they ride it will become a habit
for a lifetime. If possible, start them off with helmets while they are
still on tricycles to establish the link between wheeled vehicles, pavement
and helmets. It’s never too late, however, to get your children
- Wear one yourself. Provide a role model for your kids; they learn best
by observing you.
- Plan bicycle outings together when all family members wear their helmets.
Ride with a local bike club if you can, where all members will probably
be wearing helmets and many of them, like the racers, are accomplished riders.
- Encourage their friends to wear helmets. Peer pressure can be used in a
positive way if several families in the neighborhood start making helmet
use a regular habit at the same time. If no other kid in your neighborhood
uses a helmet, your job will be a lot harder.
- Give your child a short course in bike safety, using a guide like Teaching
Your Child to Ride A Bicycle. Placing the helmet in the context of a safety
program shows that it is not just an arbitrary rule and helps underscore
why you are requiring it. It is not enough to put a helmet on the child
and send them off without some basic safety instruction.
- Point out when watching sports events how many professional athletes use
helmets. Football and hockey players, baseball batters and race car drivers
- Take your child to a bicycle race. Bicycle racers are required to use helmets
in the US, the Tour de France and almost everywhere. They will see–usually
close up–really cool riders, competing in a hotly contested event,
all of them using helmets.
- Don’t let them ride their bikes unless they wear their helmets. Be
consistent. If you allow your children to ride occasionally without helmets,
they will not believe your messages about the importance of wearing them.
Tell them they have to find another way to play, or must walk or take
a bus to get somewhere if they don’t want to use their helmet.
To learn more about bicycle safety contact Kayla Hefner at 828.485.2300,
ext. 6204, or by e-mail at