staying safe while cycling
a helmet is a must for children riding a bike
With longer days and warmer temperatures, kids are just itching to jump on their bikes and race around the neighborhood. It’s great exercise but it’s important to take a few precautions before they put their feet on the pedals. The most important safety measure is a helmet.
Nationwide every year, 267,000 children are hurt by not wearing a helmet when they ride a bike. Apart from cars, bicycles are responsible for more childhood injuries than any other product, including trampolines, ladders and swimming pools.
Dayton Children’s treated more than 400 children in the Soin Pediatric Emergency and Trauma Center last year for bike injuries. Almost 30 injuries were due to an accident involving a car. Just last month alone, Dayton Children’s emergency room doctors saw four children with injuries from a collision with a car. “Children can suffer severe head injuries, broken bones and abdominal trauma in bike accidents,” says Tom Krzmarzick, MD, medical director of the emergency department.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that 75 percent of bike-related deaths would be prevented with a helmet, and yet only 10-20 percent of kids across Ohio wear one. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by at least 45 percent, brain injury by 33 percent, facial injury by 27 percent and fatal injury by 29 percent.
For these reasons, Dayton Children’s is supporting the legislation State Senator Shannon Jones introduced this month that would require children younger than 16 to wear a helmet while on a bicycle.
Dayton Children’s offers the following tips for bicycling safely:
1. Establish the helmet habit early. When children receive their first bike, make sure to get a helmet, as well. Remember that first bike may be a tricycle. Even if you missed that window, it’s never too late to get your children into helmets. Make wearing a helmet a requirement to ride.
2. Make sure it fits. The helmet should sit square on a child’s head, not tilted back or to the side. They should be able to see the rim of the helmet if they look up. Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under a child’s ears when buckled. When they open their mouth, the helmet should hug their head. If it does not, tighten the strap.
3. Make it rewarding. Let children pick out their own helmet. If they make the decision, they are more likely to wear the helmet. If you can’t afford a bike helmet, there are always bike helmet giveaways. Praise them every time they wear their helmet. If they do so without being told, give them a special treat or privilege.
4. Be a good role model. Kids learn best by watching you so make sure you wear a helmet when you ride, too.
5. Teach and train. "Teach kids to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road,” says Dr. Krzmarzick. “Kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules." Let them know that their bikes are not toys, but rather their first vehicles. Educate them on how not wearing a helmet can hurt their head and cause serious injury.
Drivers also need to be extra cautious this time of year, especially in residential neighborhoods, in which children may be more likely to be riding a bike.
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