Some of the most clear and happy memories I have from my childhood come from times I was on my bike. I remember riding up and down my dead-end street with my neighborhood friends as we came up with different ideas (that were usually quite creative) of games and scenarios we could play while riding on our bicycles. I remember the large hill in our neighborhood that we all saw as a challenge to conquer. We all wanted to eventually have enough “guts” to go to the very top and ride your bike all the way down!
As children, all we care about is having fun on our bikes! But as parents, we know there are potential dangers that our children face when they go out for a ride. Before sending our kids out to have a good time while getting great exercise, we must make sure we are taking all of the necessary measures to ensure our children are safe as they are whizzing around on their bikes this summer.
Doctor Solari says that one of the most important rules you should enforce among your entire family is to wear a helmet every time you ride your bicycle, even if it is just to the end of your driveway! The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety has an article titled “Bicycle Related Injuries and Fatalities” on their website where they give the following statistics: “Children are at particularly high risk for bicycle-related injuries, with those under 14 years of age accounting for 13% of the fatalities, making this one of the most frequent causes of injury related death for young children. Bicycle helmet use by children 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.”
This rule of wearing a helmet every time you ride should not just be a rule for the children in the household, but should be enforced for every family member – even you, mom and dad. You are the leaders and examples of your household and play a vital role within your family. In addition, children need to see that practicing safety is not something that is “just for children”, but, in fact, is something that should be practiced in all aspects of their entire life!
Wearing a helmet, however, is not quite enough. Here are some guidelines that should be followed to ensure your child’s helmet, as well as your own, are providing the most protection possible:
- The helmet must have a CPSC sticker which identifies the helmet as approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- The helmet must fit around the head; it should not be too big or too small.
- No hats should be worn underneath the helmet.
- Helmets should be worn level on the head (not tilted back on the crown of the head) and should cover the forehead.
- Helmet straps must always be fastened and snugly tightened under the chin to prevent the helmet from coming off when it may be needed most.
- Take care of the helmet, as throwing the helmet could damage the helmet, causing the helmet to lose its highest potential of protection.
- If the helmet is worn during a significant crash where it serves in protecting the head, it must be replaced, as damaged helmets are not capable of upmost protection.
These and other great tips on bicycle safety can be found at http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html. Keep your kids safe, keep yourself safe, and make some memories enjoying the great exercise of a bike ride this summer!