Wearing a bicycle helmet can protect your child’s head from serious injury or death if they should be in an accident. Studies indicate that wearing a helmet reduced head injuries and death in bicycle and in-line skating accidents by at least 75 percent. There are approximately 900 deaths each year due to a cyclist not wearing a helmet. There are over 180,000 non-lethal head injuries a year due to bicycle accidents where a helmet was not being used.
Non-lethal head injuries can include memory loss, learning disabilities, severe mood swings, emotional and other physical problems. A child only needs to fall a distance of two feet to incur a brain injury. A bicycle helmet can take the impact of a fall and reduce injury to the brain and skull significantly. Although there is no federal law that requires wearing a bicycle helmet, most states in the United States have bicycle helmet laws for children dating back to the 1980s.
Only 15 states have no laws at all concerning the use of bicycle helmets. Using a bicycle helmet is just plain smart. Teaching your child to wear one consistently is important as well. Here are some tips on teaching your child to wear a helmet and then getting them into the habit of continuing to wear it whenever they ride. Teaching your child while they are still young is the easiest, however, there are some ideas for the older child or adult that needs to get into the helmet-wearing habit as well.
Take your child shopping and let them pick out their own helmet. There are plenty of colors and designs of helmets, if your child picks out one with their favorite character on it they will want to wear it. Make sure the helmet fits properly; if it is too big it could continually fall forward into their eyes or fall back and pull their head back. A properly fitting helmet is important for safety as well.
If the helmet is not the right size it could fly off and do absolutely no good. Tests have shown that under10 percent of helmets actually fit the child that is wearing them. If a helmet fits properly there will be less than a one-inch movement forward, back and side to side while on their head. Make sure that the helmet meets ANSI or the American National Standards Institute guidelines for helmets.
Another good idea is to make sure that the buckle closure is made so that it will not pinch their neck when it closes because if your child gets pinched they will not want to ever put it on again. Look for a helmet that has ventilation holes in it; a child will not wear a helmet that is hot and sweaty. Also, helmets that have been in a previous accident should be thrown away.
A child should wear a helmet from the very beginning especially if they are a passenger on their parent’s bike. Get your toddler to wear their helmet around the house during playtime. The whole family should own a bicycle helmet. Everybody can practice wearing the helmet in the home and make a game of it. When you go on a bike ride make a big deal out of everyone wearing their helmet.
You can also put old helmets in a dress-up box and let them play dress-up pretending to be a superhero in their helmet. Buy a cycling magazine that has plenty of pictures of cyclists wearing their helmets and let your child cut out the pictures and paste them on a poster board. There are also coloring books available where everyone including animals are wearing bicycle helmets. Before long your child should be reminding you to wear your helmet.
When your child is older they should understand that if they are not wearing their helmet they can’t ride their bike. Everyone in the family should wear a helmet; it would even be a good idea to have extra helmets available so that when your children’s friends come over they can have a helmet to wear. As a parent, who will pay the medical bills should your child get in an accident, you should set the rules and then stick to them.
A child that comes from a family where the parents are consistent in the enforcement of their rules will not usually give you a hard time. Children whose parents often cave into their child’s whims will have a problem getting their child to do anything. Set rules and be consistent in their enforcement from the time your child is a toddler and this will pay off throughout their childhood and into their teens; even when it comes to wearing a helmet.
Your example of wearing a bicycle helmet is the most important factor in whether your child will wear a helmet. Kids do as their parents do more often than what they say especially when they are older. If wearing a helmet is a new thing in your family and your child is older than 5 go and pick out helmets together as a family.
Store the helmets right near the bikes; on the handlebar if necessary, for ease of use. If the helmet is in the child’s bedroom and the bike is outside they will never go and get the helmet on a spur of the moment ride. Easy access to the helmet is important.
Educate your child about head injuries and how to protect their brain. You also need to tell them that bicycles are considered vehicles and need to be treated as such. Explain road safety and tell them that bike accidents can happen on sidewalks, driveways, park pathways, or anywhere.
No one knows when a bike accident may occur, they can happen even on a short ride. Take your child to a bike rodeo. Bicycle rodeos are often put on by police departments or local schools; check for one in your neighborhood. At bike rodeos, your child will learn straight from a police officer the importance of wearing a helmet.
Wearing a bicycle helmet can protect your child’s head from serious injury or death if they should be in an accident. Using a bicycle helmet is just plain smart. Teaching your child to wear one consistently and making it convenient for them is important as well.Wearing a bicycle