Buckle Up! Here’s Why You Should Go Head-First Into Bicycle Safety With Your Kiddo
By Angie Fenton | Photos by Adam Kleinert
Less than five minutes after posting a photo of my toddler, Olive, on her new tricycle while haphazardly wearing her helmet on social media, I received three inbox messages essentially saying, “Your daughter’s helmet isn’t on correctly.”
Granted, we were in our carpeted living room and had only posted the photo for fun, but I took the messages seriously. Surely, I knew how to put a helmet on correctly…didn’t I? I mean, I’d only put it on for fun, but once we took her new trike outside, would she be protected?
Almost 400,000 children younger than 19 years of age are treated in U.S. emergency departments every year for bicycle-related injuries. In 2016, Norton Children’s Hospital had 22 bike versus motor vehicle injuries and 183 bike-related injuries.
Even if we were just tooling around in the driveway, I thought after learning the statistics, how can I keep my daughter safe?
First and foremost, said Sharon Rengers with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, anyone riding a bicycle – or tricycle – regardless of age, needs to wear a helmet that meets safety standards. Look for ones that have the Consumer Product Safety Commission or American National Standards Institute stickers on them. I bought mine at Target brand-new. Speaking of which…
Sure, used clothes and toys are awesome and save money, but “kind of like car seats,” said Rengers, “they’re good for one crash. You can’t always tell if it’s been in a crash or not.”
So, if you are looking at used – which is NOT advised – look for cracks inside and outside the helmet and any evidence of a crash of any kind. “I personally would rather just get a new (helmet) instead of trusting that it’s not been damaged before,” said Rengers, and I agree. Safety first. Always.
When it comes to the proper fit, the helmet needs to sit level on the head. Put two fingers above the eyebrow; that’s where the front of the helmet should be sitting, said Rengers.
Then, be sure one strap is placed before the ear and one strap is behind it. After snapping the straps together, an adult should be able to fit only one finger below the chin. Ask your child to open his or her mouth as wide as they can; they should feel the snugness. But remember: “It’s really important that you have it level so you’re protecting all lobes of their brain,” Rengers advised.
My tot isn’t exactly going for a jaunt on her parent-steered bike, so does she really need a helmet beyond the factor that (let’s face it) she looks super cute?
“Yes,” said Rengers, emphatically, “you really need a helmet – even on the driveway, on the sidewalk in front of your house or any time.”
In addition to safety, what you’re also teaching is a pattern, Rengers explained. “It’s like wearing a seatbelt. You do it every time so when (kids) are big and on their own, they do it every time.”
If you want more information about bicycle helmet safety call Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness at 502.629.7358.