By Angela Ardolino
The day you buy your child his first bicycle is sure to be a milestone in your life. But it’s important to remember that bicycles are more than just a toy; they are associated with more childhood injuries than any consumer product except the automobile. In 2004, nearly 275,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries, and 132 children ages 14 and under died as a result of a bike-related crash.
You can greatly reduce your children’s risk of injury and death simply by setting some limits. A single rule – wear a helmet or don’t ride – can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent. Kids, especially 11- to 14-year-olds, are sometimes reluctant to wear helmets. They may insist they’re good riders who don’t need helmets anymore, complain that helmets are uncomfortable, or point out that none of their friends wear them. Your child may be especially mature for her age; he may be a particularly skilled rider; or it just might feel easier to give in. But experts at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital urge you to resist that temptation. Requiring your children to wear a helmet every time, everywhere they go, is the best thing you can do to protect them.
If your child rides a bike, then he probably also enjoys skateboards, scooters or inline skates. Make sure that whenever he "wheels" around, he's wearing the right gear.
Don’t negotiate. It’s estimated that 75 percent of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.
Correct fit is essential. Do the "Eyes, Ears and Mouth" check
EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet (one to two fingers 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: Now open your mouth as wide as you can! Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps!
If your child is reluctant to wear her helmet, try letting her choose her own. Helmets come in many colors and styles – allowing children to choose a helmet that’s “cool” may make them less likely to take it off when you’re not around. There are many safe and FUN style to choose from. Check out
Talk to other parents and encourage them to have their kids wear helmets. Let your children see that you wear a helmet, too. Children are more likely to wear helmets when riding with others who wear them.