More than 100 children die and a quarter million are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries each year. Of the 250,000 injured, nearly half are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). What’s more, 88% of these deaths and injuries could be avoided if these children had been properly fitted with bicycle helmets, but a recent study has shown that only 1 in 5 kids ages 5-14 regularly wear helmets.
Safe Kids Erie has forged a special partnership with Attorney Dallas Hartman of Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., and started a safety program called “Dallas Helps Safe Kids Erie.” To kick off the Safe Kids Day, Attorney Dallas Hartman will be speaking with local dignitaries and visiting Jefferson Elementary to discuss bicycle safety. His donations will be revealed at the ceremony kick-off press conference at 11 am. The program will include local and state government, as well as representatives from 28 local social service agencies.
Patricia “Patty” Puline, the Erie SAFE KIDS Coalition coordinator, says that “A bike helmet is essential safety gear. Helmets can prevent an estimated 75% of bike-related child fatalities. In a crash, a child without a helmet is 14 times more likely to be killed than is a ‘kid with a lid.’ Helmets can prevent up to 45,000 head injuries to children each year.” Puline says that helmets should always be labeled with markers indicative of certified testing companies such as ANSI, Snell, or ASTM International. So long as it’s certified and new, Puline tells parents to “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.”
But learning how to secure a helmet won’t be the only thing targeted at the event. 90% of fatal bicycle accidents involve motor vehicles. And 60% take place on local, residential streets. Attorney Hartman, well aware of these unfortunate facts, said in an interview last week: “Kids need to be taught to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road, and they should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules. One preventable injury is one too many.”
The “Dallas Helps Erie Area SAFE KIDS Coalition” will focus on the key points of bicycle safety in general and will be reminding parents and their children to always:
- Be sure the helmet fits and your children know how to correctly wear it. When a bicycle accident happens, the risk of head injury when a helmet is worn, but has been fastened incorrectly, or is either too big or too small, is doubled. Helmets should sit atop the skull at a level position and should not rock forwards, backward, or side to side when the child shakes his or her head. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tight. 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 to the child’s jaw when his or her mouth is opened or closed.
- Be sure the bike is the right size for the child and is kept up. There should be at least 2-4 inches of clearance between the bike frame and groin for boys, and 4-6 inches for girls when their feet sit flat on the ground. Always make sure the bike is in good repair. Secure reflectors, properly working brakes, smooth-shifting gears, and tightly fastened, properly inflated tires are a must.
- Bicycle helmets are for biking. Kids should not wear bicycle helmets on the playground or for other sports and activities that require their own specialized helmets like football, hockey, and baseball.
- When in doubt, get help. The sales staff at any sporting goods store or bicycle shop should be able to provide the proper advice on fitting and adjusting bicycle helmets. If you’re interested in additional information about bike helmet safety, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at www.bhsi.org.
Hundreds of Bell Sports Bicycle Helmets and other donations will be distributed on Wednesday, May 12th from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM at Jefferson Elementary School. The event will offer safety activities such as helmet fittings, a bicycle course, and mechanical inspections. In addition, there will be other safety programs including water, fire, poison, ATV, animal bites, and various other hot topics.
The Erie Area SAFE KIDS Coalition is part of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, which is the first and only national not-for-profit organization solely dedicated to the prevention of childhood accidents. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico make up the Campaign. Their goal is simple: to keep kids safe through learning awareness.