Accidents can happen when you least expect them. Therefore, whether your child is rollerblading, bicycling, skateboarding or riding a scooter, he should wear a helmet. In fact, a helmet should be top priority even if he is only taking a short skate down the driveway, rolling on the sidewalk or taking a quick ride around the corner. Surprisingly, many kids shun their helmets, increasing the risk of injury, traumatic injury and even death.
1. Life Savers
If your child gets into an accident while riding his bike or skating down the driveway, he risks hitting his head on the hard ground or even a tree. A helmet acts as a buffer, separating his head from the point of impact. Simply put, helmets save lives and the proof is in the statistics. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh website explains that when an accident occurs, a helmet can reduce brain injury by an astounding 90 percent.
2. Helmet Standards
Although it may be tempting to choose a helmet that makes a fashion statement, the pretty helmet with the blue flowers may not be the best choice. Reputable bicycle helmet manufacturers put their products through a series of tests in order to ensure proper protection. Your child should only wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute. While shopping for a helmet, make sure to check the label on the packaging for the ANSI certification seal.
3. Proper Fit
Choosing the right helmet is an important part of keeping kids safe when they are riding around. A helmet that is too big or too small is not as effective as one that fits properly. According to the Cornell University website, choosing a brightly colored helmet that fits closely on your child's head is best. Foam pads inside the helmet are adjustable to ensure comfort and a good fit. Keep in mind that the helmet should sit level on your child’s head. Adjusting the straps so that the helmet does not rock forward, backward or side-to-side more than 1 inch during riding is also essential.
4. State Laws
Helmet laws vary from state to state, with only 14 states failing to make mandates. Even though kids may not be required to wear helmets at the state level, local governments may enforce their own helmet laws. Some states, such as Utah, have no helmet laws for children at the state or local levels. This is much different from Maryland, which requires all kids younger than age 16 to wear a helmet. Laws or no laws, wearing a helmet is in your child’s best interest. Check with your state or local municipality to see how helmet laws affect your family.
- Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh: Helmet Safety and Fitting Transcripts
- Cornell University: What You Need to Know About Bicycle Helmets
- Springfield Missouri Police Department: Bicycle Safety
- Utah Department of Health: Bicycle Safety
- Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration: Bicycle Safety
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