Each year, more than 100 children die from bicycle-related injuries, and more than a quarter million are treated in emergency rooms. Of these, nearly half (47 percent) have traumatic brain injuries. Properly fitted bike helmets could reduce the risk of bike-related brain injuries by 88 percent; however, only one out of five cyclists ages 5 to 14 usually wears a helmet. In Pennsylvania, children under age 12 are required by law to wear a helmet at all times while riding a bicycle.
We are proud to announce that we have forged a partnership with Safe Kids Erie, a safety program entitled “Dallas Helps Safe Kids Erie”. To launch Safe Kids Day, and to kick off the spring and summer campaign, Dallas will be at the school to meet the kids, talk with local dignitaries, and teach kids how to wear a helmet. His $50,000 donation will be presented at the ceremony kick off at 11 AM – the press conference will include a full on press court of government and local officials, and representatives from over 28 local social service agencies.
Hundreds of Bell Sport Bicycle Helmets will be distributed to the students. This event offers safety activities such as helmet fit, a bicycle safety course, bike inspection as well as many other safety programs including water, fire, poison, ATV, animal bite, and twenty other safety topics.
“A bike helmet is essential safety gear. Helmets could prevent an estimated 75 percent of bike-related child fatalities,” says Patty Puline, Erie SAFE KIDS coordinator. “In a crash, a child without a helmet is 14 times as likely to be killed as a kid with a lid. Helmets could prevent up to 45,000 head injuries to children each year.”
Motor vehicles are involved in approximately 90 percent of fatal bike crashes, and about 60 percent of bike-versus-auto crashes occur on residential streets, not at intersections. “Kids need to be taught to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road, and kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules,” says Hartman. “One preventable injury is one too many.”
A helmet should be labeled to indicate that it is certified by a reputable standards and testing organization – ANSI, Snell or ASTM International. As long as it’s certified and brand new, Puline says, “Let kids pick out their own helmets. If they think a helmet looks cool, they’ll be more likely to wear it when you’re not around.”
Dallas Helps Erie Area SAFE KIDS Coalition also reminds parents and caregivers to:
Make sure the helmet fits and your kids know how to put it on correctly. In a crash, the risk of head injury is doubled if the helmet is worn incorrectly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side-to-side. The helmet straps must always be buckled but not too tightly. SAFE KIDS and Bell Sports recommend the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test: The rim of the helmet should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows, the straps should form a “V” just below the ear lobe, the buckle should be flat against the skin and the strap should feel snug when the rider’s mouth is open.
Make sure the bike itself is the right size for the child. There should be 2-4 inches of clearance between the bike frame and the child’s groin when the child’s feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair – reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
Remember bike helmets are for biking. Kids should not wear bike helmets on the playground (where the straps can get caught on equipment and cause injury) or for activities that require specialized helmets (such as skiing or football).
When in doubt, get help. The sales staff at any bicycle shop or outdoor recreation store should be able to provide expert advice on fitting and adjusting bikes and helmets. Additional information is available from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at www.bhsi.org.
Erie Area SAFE KIDS Coalition is part of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury – the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the Campaign.