Every year, more than 300,000 children visit emergency departments across the country for bicycle accidents alone. Helmets are an essential piece of safety gear for many activities and may prevent serious—even life-threatening—injuries. However, knowing what helmet is right for your child can be difficult. Remember the following tips when shopping for the perfect helmet:
• There are many different types of helmets, and each is designed for a specific activity. Purchase helmets for your child that are compatible with the activities he or she is involved with.
• Take your teen with you when purchasing the helmet to ensure it fits correctly. A properly fitted helmet will securely rest on your son or daughter’s head and will not tilt forward, backward or to the sides.
• Check to see if the helmet meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or American Society for Testing and Materials International safety standards. If it does not, choose one from a different brand.
You’re Never too Cool for Safety Rules
As children grow into teenagers, they become more self-conscious about their image and style. Many teens are reluctant to wear a helmet because of the way it makes them look in front of their peers. However, not wearing a helmet can increase risk for injury during an accident.
Try these suggestions to encourage your teen to wear a helmet:
• Whether in your vehicle or your teen’s, keep an extra helmet packed in the car to ensure he or she is always prepared.
• Talk to other parents about their teens wearing helmets. If your teen’s friends have to follow the same rules, some of the peer pressure may subside.
• Model the behavior you want your teen to practice by wearing a helmet when you go out for a ride.
• Let teens exercise their sense of style by allowing them to decorate their helmets.
• Implement a house rule that if your teen doesn’t wear a helmet, he or she cannot ride.
Has your teen traded in his or her bike or skateboard for a bigger set of wheels? Search “driving” above for more safety tips.
Reviewed by Kia Humphrey, M.P.A., outreach & education coordinator, St.Vincent Neuroscience Institute.