Why Wearing A Helmet Is Never Optional

Bicycling is a great way to promote fitness for the whole family, or just to spend some quality time outdoors. But, it is also a potentially dangerous activity.  According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, emergency rooms in the United States see around 500,000 bicycle-related injuries every year. And every day, two Americans die in bicycle-related crashes.

Did you know that wearing a properly fitted helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by as much as 85 percent?

So it should be a no-brainer – help protect your child by insisting that they wear a helmet every time they ride their bicycle.

Proper Helmet Fit Is Crucial

Bring your children with you when you shop for their helmet and let them pick out one that they like. Make sure it is the proper size – measuring your child’s head beforehand can be helpful as helmets do come in different sizes.

How To Know If Your Child’s Helmet Fits Properly

  • The helmet should sit snugly on the top of the head, with the front of the helmet in the mid-forehead region.
  • Follow the directions to adjust the straps so the helmet stays securely in place.
  • If the child nods his or her head forward and backward or turns it from side to side, the helmet shouldn’t move out of place. If the helmet is too loose, it can slide backwards and forwards, exposing the forehead or obstructing their vision.

Remember that children’s heads grow with the rest of their bodies, so check periodically that the helmet is still a good fit. The straps will also get loose with usage and will need to be re-adjusted. A helmet is not something the child should “grow into” – make sure it fits properly the first time they wear it.

Make A Habit Out Of Wearing Your Helmet

Make helmet wearing a part of bicycle riding, and start using the helmet the day your child starts riding his or her bicycle. Model good behavior by wearing a helmet yourself, not just making your children wear theirs. I remind parents that a helmet should be worn every time their child rides a bicycle – even when they are just “riding around in the driveway.”

Helmets Aren’t Just For Bikes

But riding a bicycle isn’t the only activity where kids should wear a helmet. Scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can carry a risk of head injuries, too. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it has wheels on it, you should wear a helmet when you ride it.

Anyone who has ridden a bicycle has probably crashed at some point in time, so make sure your child’s head (and yours) is as protected as possible by wearing a helmet every time!

By Dr. Samuel Schimelpfenig

Pediatrician at Avera McKennan

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One Response to Why Wearing A Helmet Is Never Optional

  1. Paul April 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Great article! It is a bit of a challenge getting my six-year old to wear her helmet as she doesn’t quite “get it”. I think it is important to wear them with those Razr scooters as well.