Regardless of the number of wheels they have, children love to play with things that move. From the time they can walk, they’re pushing around a stroller. Once they grow into their walking legs, they graduate to a big wheel. Once in school, it’s rollerblades, skateboards, scooters and finally a bicycle.
In 2010, more than 800 children were treated in the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children’s for injuries suffered on nonmotorized wheeled vehicles including bikes, scooters, skateboards, Big Wheels and rollerblades.
As children get older, they begin to grow faster and faster. These growth spurts can cause clumsiness and make kids more likely to get injured. Almost 66 percent of children brought into Dayton Children’s for bicycle and other wheel-related injuries were older than age 9. Following safety precautions at an early age sets a child up for a healthy, injury-free future.
Helmets, Helmets, Helmets
Bicycles are the number one cause of death using sport or recreational vehicles. There are 2,200 deaths per year, of which 1,700 could be prevented by using such an inexpensive and simple tool: a helmet.
“Helmets could prevent an estimated 85 percent of severe head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year,” says Laurence Kleiner, MD, a board certified neurosurgeon at Dayton Children’s.
A helmet that is too big or too small will not protect your child from injury. In order to use a helmet correctly, it must be fitted properly and be checked often make sure it stays secure. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dayton Children’s, follow these guidelines for a proper helmet fit:
- CSA, ASTM, CPSC or SNELL label must be attached inside the helmet
- The pads touch the child in the front, back, sides and top of his or her head
- The helmet sits level, about two fingers above eyebrows
- The chin straps are snug and meet just below the ears
- Eyes and ears aren’t blocked
The most important thing to do when sizing and fitting a helmet is to explain each step to the child so that they can learn how to do it for themselves.
“Teaching children about helmet use early and wearing one yourself will set a good example for your child to follow in the future,” says Dr. Kleiner.
Other Safety Precautions
Helmets are not the only safety item that can be used to prevent injuries while playing with wheeled toys. Here are some additional reminders for parents and children:
- Follow all traffic laws and ride only in designated areas
- Avoid listening to music or texting while riding a bike, skateboarding or rollerblading
- Wear other protective gear
o Knee pads
o Elbow pads
o Mouth guard
o Wrist guard
- Wear properly fitting shoes
o No flip-flops
o Tied shoelaces
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