Bike riding is a great way to get exercise and fresh air and share time as a family. But before you and the kids rush out and start pedaling, there's an important factor that you need to consider — safety.
Bicycle helmet use should not be optional for anyone in your family, no matter where you are or how short the ride. In many states it's the law.
Here's why: Many bike accidents involve a head injury, so a crash could mean permanent brain damage or death for someone who doesn't wear one while riding. In fact, each year in the United States, about half a million kids are seriously injured in bicycle-related accidents, and most of those injuries could have been avoided if a helmet was worn. To protect against brain injury, make sure your kids wear a correctly fitting helmet on every ride.
Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a helmet:
You should be able to get help finding a well-fitting helmet and adjusting it properly at any bicycle store.
When kids wear a helmet, make sure that the straps are fastened. Also make sure they don't wear any other hat underneath it.
Be sure to replace any helmet made before 1999. If your child hits any surface hard while wearing a helmet, replace it — helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock after taking serious hits.
A few bike helmets can be used as protection for other activities, but in general, they're best suited to biking. Most helmets are made for one specific type of activity — for example, special helmets also are made for inline skating, baseball, and snowmobiling.
Kids should not wear any helmet when they're on a playground or climbing a tree — there is a risk of strangulation from the chin strap during these types of activities.
What kids wear when riding a bike is also very important for safety:
Here are some must-know safety tips to teach kids:
Right turn alternative
Check your child's bike at least once each season to keep it safe and well-maintained.
Be sure to check:
One of the best ways to help kids learn safe bike riding is to set a good example by following the rules of the road yourself. Most important, always wear your helmet.
Go for bike rides with your kids so you can show them what safe riding looks like. It's also a great way to stay active as a family and get valuable together time that you'll all enjoy!
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2014
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