Bike riding is a great way to get exercise and fresh air and share time as a family. But before you and the kids rush out and start pedaling, there’s an important factor that you need to consider — safety. Helmet Basics
Bicycle helmet use should not be optional for anyone in your family, no matter where you are or how short the ride. In many states it’s the law. Here’s why: Many bike accidents involve a head injury, so a crash could mean permanent brain damage or death for someone who doesn’t wear one while riding.
In fact, each year in the United States, about half a million kids are seriously injured in bicycle-related accidents, and most of those injuries could have been avoided if a helmet was worn. To protect against brain injury, make sure your kids wear a correctly fitting helmet on every ride. Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a helmet:
Pick bright colors or fluorescent colors that are visible to drivers and other cyclists.
Look for a helmet that’s well ventilated.
Make sure that the helmet has a CPSC or Snell sticker inside. These indicate that the helmet meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit group that tests helmet safety. Make sure your child’s helmet fits correctly and can be adjusted.
You should be able to get help finding a well-fitting helmet and adjusting it properly at any bicycle store. When kids wear a helmet, make sure that the straps are fastened. Also make sure they don’t wear any other hat underneath it. Be sure to replace any helmet made before 1999. If your child hits any surface hard while wearing a helmet, replace it — helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock after taking serious hits. A few bike helmets can be used as protection for other activities, but in general, they’re best suited to biking. Most helmets are made for one specific type of activity — for example, special helmets also are made for inline skating, baseball, and snowmobiling. Kids should not wear any helmet when they’re on a playground or climbing a tree — there is a risk of strangulation from the chin strap during these types of activities.
Properly wearing a helmet when cycling is your best means of protection against injury. According to recent research, helmets provide a 63 to 88 percent reduction in the risk of head, brain, and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists (Thompson, 2007). The following information will help you find the right helmet for you. Helmet guidelines
Wear a helmet:
Always wear a helmet while riding a bike, no matter how short the trip After a crash or any impact that affects your helmet, replace it immediately
Always wear a properly fitting helmet:
A helmet will not protect you if it does not fit properly Make sure that the helmet fits on top of the head, not tipped back
Shell and pads:
Find the smallest helmet shell size that fits over your head Helmet pads should not be used to make a helmet that is too big fit your head Leave about two-fingers width between your eyebrows and the front of the helmet
The straps should be joined just under each ear at the jawbone The buckle should be snug with your mouth completely open
Periodically check your strap adjustment; improper fit can render a helmet useless 5. Ventilation:
In general, the more vents the better; improper ventilation can cause overheating Helmets with good ventilation can actually be cooler than riding with no helmet at all 6. Colors:
Helmets come in all different colors in different models; buy a highly visible color Shell color does not affect the temperature; a black shell will not be hotter in the sun Pick a color that you will wear
Remember, a helmet and good cycling skills go hand in hand. Even though you’re wearing a helmet, it’s important to always practice safe riding.
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