Commentary by Debra Balos, DO
Kids on bikes are sure signs of summer. While providing hours of enjoyment, bicycling also can be hazardous with the threat of head injury being a major concern. Wearing a properly fitting bike helmet is the most effective way to prevent head injury, but it’s estimated that less than half of children wear a helmet consistently – or correctly. Here are some bike helmet safety tips:
Ensure helmets meet safety standards. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues safety standards for bike helmets. Check your family’s helmets to make sure they carry CPSC stickers.
Find the right fit. Bike helmets must fit properly to provide adequate protection during a fall or accident. If you’re not sure about sizing, visit a bike store and ask a professional for help fitting helmets for your family.
Show children how to properly wear their helmets and require use every time they ride. Bike helmets should cover the forehead and sit level. Straps should be adjusted for proper fit and fastened securely whenever the helmet is worn. Always fasten the chin strap securely. Be sure children know it’s important to wear their helmets every time they ride their bikes – even on short trips.
Set a good example. Children watch and mimic what their parents do. You can serve as a good role model and protect yourself from injury by wearing a bike helmet.
Take good care. Helmets can be damaged when they are tossed in the yard or on the driveway. Also, if there is an accident, and a bike helmet sustains impact, consider purchasing a new one. A helmet may not protect as well after a significant crash.
Know a bike helmet’s history. While it might be tempting to purchase a used helmet or accept a hand-me-down from a neighbor, it’s important to know if the helmet has been involved in any accidents. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to purchase a new helmet that meets current safety standards.
Debra Balos, DO, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Zionsville, 55 Brendon Way, Ste. 800, in Zionsville. She can be reached by calling the office at 777-6400.