|Make Every Bike Ride A Safe Ride
We all know that kids love to ride bikes, and we expect them to get their fair share of bumps and bruises when they do. But young bicyclists risk serious injury or even death if they do not learn and practice proper bicycle safety. The facts speak for themselves:
Bicycles remain associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except automobiles according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
The fatality rate for young bicyclists ages 5 to 18 was nearly twice the rate for all bicyclists in 1998, and the injury rate was more than twice as high, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In the 1997-1998 school year, 44 children ages 5 to 18 died in bicycle-related crashes during normal school transportation hours.
The first and most important step in bicycle safety is wearing a helmet. Head injury is the leading cause of death and permanent disability in bicycle crashes. Research has shown that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury in all types of bicycle incidents by as much as 88 percent. Cyclists who wear helmets are 14 times less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those who do not wear them.
Its important to choose a helmet carefully and to make sure it fits properly. Look for a label or sticker that says the helmet has been tested and meets the new federal safety standard issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Select a brand and size that fits well prior to any adjustments. (When choosing a helmet for a child, buy one that fits now, not one to grow into.) Most helmets come with adjustable sizing pads to help ensure a better fit.
A properly adjusted bicycle helmet fits comfortably and securely. It should be worn level on the head, not tilted back on the crown or pulled low over the forehead. Once the helmet is adjusted, you should not be able to move it more than an inch in any direction. Getting a proper helmet fit takes time as much as half an hour. Do it when your child is relaxed and you have plenty of time, not when youre in a hurry to go outside and ride. Once the adjustments are made, you can secure the straps so the helmet will be ready for the next ride.
Many communities offer bicycle education programs, and a growing number of states and localities have passed mandatory helmet legislation. Both of these measures have been effective in increasing helmet use. But the best way for children to learn about the importance of wearing a helmet is from their parents. So set an example for your children and always wear a helmet when bicycling.
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