Wear helmets when riding bikes
Spring has arrived and families are gearing up to enjoy the outdoors on bicycles. While inflating tires and checking brakes are important, according to Safe Kids Kansas, a helmet is essential.
Safe Kids Kansas urges parents, caregivers, and children to use helmets each time riding bicycling, no matter how long or short the distance.
Each year approximately 135 children die from bicycle-related injuries and more than 267,000 non-fatal bicycle injuries occur. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent. However, only 15 to 25 percent of children 14 and younger usually wear bicycle helmets.
“A bike helmet is essential gear,” said Jan Stegelman, state director. “Helmets can prevent an estimated 75 percent of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year.”
Here are some guidelines:
- Make sure the helmet fits and the child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should set on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly.
- Make sure the bike is the right size for the child. There should be about a one-inch clearance between the bike frame and the child’s groin when the child’s feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair — reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
- Bike helmets are for biking. Children should not wear bike helmets on playgrounds or for activities that require specialized helmets such as skiing or football.
- Model and teach proper bicycle behavior. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs.
- When in doubt, get help. Marion County Health Department can assist with the proper fitting of helmets.
Last modified June 4, 2009