Children ride bicycles either as a mode of transportation, or as a form of recreation. Since safety will always be a concern for parents, children are then provided safety gears. Many parents may assume that for as long as children wear bicycle helmets, they are already protected from life-threatening injuries. However, it is vital that parents ensure that their kids are wearing it properly. After all, a bicycle helmet may only save lives, and decrease the risk of significant injuries, if it is worn properly.
There are many bicycle helmets that can be purchased, but choose the ones that have passed safety standards. A helmet may be safe, if it has a seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), or from the Snell Memorial Foundation.
A bicycle helmet in no way should disrupt a rider’s visibility. If it blocks vision, choose another one that allows full visibility. Ask your child as to which helmet can give him good visibility. A good safety tip is to purchase helmets with colors, which make a child visible to other motorists. You can even encourage your child to put reflective stickers on the helmet to make it more visible.
It is also vital that children have the right helmet size, and that they are taught the proper way to wear a helmet. Although it may seem like it’s easy, parents should stress proper usage because it may save a child’s life. The helmet should be worn flat on top of the head, and it should not cover the top of the forehead. The helmet should also not tilt forward or backward, and the chin strap should be fastened just below the chin. Adjust the chin strap when needed, in order to make the fit more secure. Helmets also come with foam sizing pads, which are necessary to make the helmet fit snugly.
Remember, the helmet should not rock forward or backward, or on either sides so that it can serve its purpose. If a helmet tips forward, the back of the head may not be protected in the event of an accident. Likewise, a helmet that tips backward may not protect the front and side of the head during a crash. For children with long hair, helmets with ponytail ports are available for a better fit.
Children should also be taught to remove their helmets before playing with playground equipment, or when they climb trees. This is important because it may be a potential choking hazard, if the straps get caught. Parents should also periodically check the condition of a helmet. Check for cracks, dents, asymmetry or damage, because it may no longer be able to protect a child from injuries.
Parents need to emphasize as well, that helmets need to be worn at all times, even at short distances. Tell your child that although helmets provide protection, it is still not an excuse to be reckless. A lot of children go to the emergency department due to bike related injuries each year. Thus taking chances is never an option, especially if it involves one’s safety.