Wearing a properly fitted helmet is important for every member of the family. More children aged 5-14 are seen in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than any other sport. Head injuries are the most common result of a bike accident. More than a half million children are seriously injured every year in bicycle-related accidents, and many of those injuries may have been avoided if they were wearing a helmet.
“Properly fitted bicycle helmets are the single most important safety device for cyclists of all ages and are estimated to reduce head injury risk by as much as 85 percent,” says John Dunn, MD, a Kaiser Permanente Washington pediatrician. “Make it a rule that no one in your family cycles without a helmet, no matter how short the ride.”
Make sure the helmet fits properly and can be adjusted. Most importantly, check to see if it fastens properly. A snug and secure fit is key. If you’re in Spokane on June 15, you can get help at our Healthy Kids Day event where we’ll be giving away helmets to kids and fitting them. (Puget Sound-area Healthy Kids Day events were on April 21.) You can also visit a bike shop for assistance.
How to fit a bike helmet
Matthew Handley, MD, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Seattle and his friend Timothy show how to fit a helmet.
Putting on a helmet before pedaling is crucial for everyone in the family. While there is currently no state law requiring helmet use in Washington, some cities and counties do require helmet use with bicycles.
Here are a few tips on how to choose and safely use bicycle helmets:
- Choose bright or fluorescent colors so that everyone can see you, day or night.
- Pick a helmet that is lightweight, comfortable, and well ventilated.
- Be sure to choose the right helmet for bicycling. Don’t wear your bike helmet for any other sport, or while on the playground. The chin strap can wrap around the neck, causing serious injury.
- Replace any helmet manufactured before 1999. If the helmet takes a hit, replace it immediately. Once damaged, helmets lose their capacity to absorb a shock.
For more tips on bike safety and fitting of a free helmet, attend the Healthy Kids Day event in Spokane on June 15 at Spokane Valley YMCA, 2421 N Discovery Pl. Free helmets are available while supplies last. The event begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m.
Helmets: ‘As important as seat belts’
As an emergency medicine physician for Kaiser Permanente, Bruce Evans, MD, gets regular reminders of the importance of wearing your helmet during recreational activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, and snowboarding.
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