My family loves to travel to the south… Hilton Head Island, to be exact. We don’t go for the ocean (sometimes we will spend the whole week there and never play in the water at all), but we do go for the biking. We love to bike along the many winding paths… we love to bike along the beach and look at the water, we love to bike to the grocery store and never use our car during our entire trip.
When Nationwide reached out to me about the Nationwide Make Safe Happen program for Bike Safety Month, I was onboard. I’ve got this covered! Make Safe Happen is a program dedicated to reducing accidental injury – the leading cause of death of children ages 0-12. This spring, Make Safe Happen is focusing on safety on wheels – helping parents keep their children safer as they ride and roll on bikes, skates, skateboards and scooters.
I decided that I wanted to shed some light on the importance of a proper fitting helmet for kids. As I said, we spend many, many hours biking and one thing that makes my stomach hurt is to see a young child pass me, on a bike, with a helmet that is far too big or small. The reason? A proper fitting helmet can be the difference between a few bumps and bruises or death to a child after a fall. Since I know that some parents just don’t understand how very important it is, I wanted to shed light on it today. We only know what we know, right?
Look at the difference in this picture, between our 9-year old’s helmet and our 4-year old’s helmet:
Thanks to the Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program, I just found out that head injuries were the second most frequent diagnosis resulting in hospitalization for all four activities ranging from 1 in 10 hospitalizations for skating to nearly 4 in 10 hospitalizations for both biking and skateboarding [NEISS, 2017]. That’s pretty scary.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 million children are treated at emergency rooms across the country and more than 9,000 children die each year due to accidental injuries. A champion for child safety and wellbeing for more than 90 years, Nationwide launched Make Safe Happen in 2015 to empower parents and caregivers with tools and resources to make homes safer.
So how do you know if a helmet fits properly?
Use these guidelines:
1- The helmet should be no more than 2 fingers above the eyes (see video below).
2- Straps should make a V under the ears.
3- The straps & helmet should be snug when the child’s mouth is open.
I know that sometimes kids don’t want to wear a helmet (our oldest son has started asking me if he has to wear one… the answer is ALWAYS yes). Through the survey, Make Safe Happen found that nearly 4 in 10 parents of children ages 5-14 years indicated that their child did not always wear a helmet when participating in one of the four wheeled sports activities. And this is largely because the parent did not perceive a need. I can’t imagine the regret I would feel if our kids got hurt because I said it was OK not to wear one.
Did you know that 50 children per hour visit the emergency department (ED) as a result of an injury related to bikes, skates, skateboards and scooters. Make Safe Happen wanted to understand why so many visits to the emergency department are occurring. I don’t want our kids to be one of them.
What can we do today?
- Be sure that our kids are wearing properly fitted helmets. This is the best way to prevent head injuries and death, for every ride.
- Stay on sidewalks or bike paths, when possible. Kids are only kids. If they sneeze, they can fall, or if they turn to look at something, the bike follows their eyes (for our kids, at least)… so always bike in a safe area.
- Follow the rules of the road. Teach your kids these rules BEFORE heading out.
- Check all equipment at the start or end of every season.
- Ride together until your kids are comfortable enough to ride on their own and you know that they will make the right choices to be safe.
For more helpful info, visit Makesafehappen.com – you will find all sorts of tips to make homes safer and how to keep your family safer on wheels. I would also highly suggest downloading the Make Safe Happen app. The Make Safe Happen app includes tips for safety on wheels, safe nursery tips, fire safety and water safety content and tips; the app also has room by room, age by age checklists. Perfect!