Protecting Little Noggins

What Every Parent Should Know about Lids for Kids
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Be Helmet Wise

Consider a few more facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

*Every year about 900 bicycle-related deaths occur.

*More children ages 5 to 14 go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with bikes than with any other sport. Many of these injuries are head injuries.

*Bike helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.

*Many states and local jurisdictions have laws requiring bike helmets.

For more information on bike helmets and bike safety, including a list of states where helmet use is mandatory, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

Focus on Helmets: Books for Kids

*I'm Safe on My Bike by Wendy Gordon (Backyard Books), ages 4 to 8. Part of an "I'm Safe" series of books, this story features Kip, who doesn't want to wear a helmet.

*Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park (Knopf), ages 10 and up. Young Phoebe describes how her brother died while riding his bike without a helmet.

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Anyone who rides a bike, regardless of his or her age, needs a helmet. The helmet should be a good one. That's really all I should need to say.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Consider these sobering facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

-- Despite the fact that 70 to 80 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, only 18 percent of all cyclists wear them.

-- Nationally, cyclists ages 14 and under are at five times greater risk for injury than older riders.

Sadly, that's not the end of the story (See Be Helmet Wise, above).

Hey, Knucklehead!
Thankfully, a good many of today's kids are used to wearing helmets. Whereas most of us parents didn't have them when we were young, our kids are growing up with hard cases.

Nonetheless, I still see plenty of riders out there without helmets, many of them teenage boys, it seems. Right there on busy roads, often wobbling in heavy traffic.

I want to shout at these dummies every time I see them.

What's a parent to do?

-- Don't let your child on a bike without a helmet. Treat helmets as you would a personal flotation device when boating, or a car seat when driving: mandatory. If the helmet goes, the bike goes, too.

-- Let your child pick out a style he or she likes. Many include designs of favorite characters; some come with stickers so kids can "customize" their lids. If your child likes his or her helmet, it's more likely to be worn.

-- A final, important word on helmets. Parents should set good examples by always wearing their own. For more information on adults and helmets, read GORP's Don't Be a Sorehead by Patrick O'Grady.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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