Use Your Head – Wear a Helmet

Safety Corner

Sports such as bicycling, skateboarding and inline skating account for 50 percent of head injuries that occur in children engaged in recreational activities.

In fact, more children ages 5-14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to bicycling than any other sport.

The simple act of strapping on a helmet can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent. But, according to a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 48 percent of children ages 14 and younger wear a helmet while bicycling.

“Wearing a properly fitted helmet protects your skull and brain from injuries during falls. Any bicyclist who does not wear a helmet is at increased risk of head injury,” says Marty Collins, a registered nurse and coordinator of the trauma program and Emergency Management department at Wilcox Medical Center.

Before your keiki pedal out the door, make sure they have on a properly fitted helmet.

How do you know if your helmet fits?

The right helmet for your child should be:

  • Snug. It does not slide from side to side or front to back. Both the side and chin straps need to be snug.
  • Level. It is square on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. It does not tilt in any direction.
  • Stable. The chin strap should be buckled at all times when riding, but not too tightly.
Wearing a properly fitted helmet protects your skull and brain from injuries during falls. Any bicyclist who does not wear a helmet is at increased risk of head injury.”

When buying a helmet for your child, be sure to choose a helmet that fits your child now, not one he or she will grow into. Have your keiki perform the following fit test:

  • Eyes. Put the helmet on your head. Look up. You should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger widths above the eyebrows.
  • Ears. Make sure the straps form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The straps should be a little tight, but comfortable.
  • Mouth. Open your mouth as wide as you can. Does the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten the straps.

You should only buy a helmet that meets the bicycle helmet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Any helmet meeting these standards is labeled. Check the inside for a label.

“Allow children to have a choice in the color and style of their helmet,” adds Collins, noting children will be more apt to wear something they had a say in picking out.

“Educate them on the purpose of wearing a helmet,” Collins says. “And be a role model and wear your helmet.”

Hawaii state law requires that all kids younger than age 16 wear a properly fitted helmet while riding a bike.

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety website for more information on bicycle safety.

Published on: April 20, 2015