Released by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office-Canton
With Christmas approaching, many parents are planning to give their child a new bicycle – maybe even their first bicycle. This is an excellent opportunity to teach children about the importance of wearing a helmet to protect their head. According to National Safe Kids, helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injury by up to 88%, but only 45% of children wear bike helmets. According to National Safe Kids, bicycles are associated with more injuries in children than any other product except automobiles. Other studies from the organization found that nearly half of the hospitalizations related to bicycles are traumatic injury to the brain. Helmets should be considered an important part of bike riding.
“Learning to ride a bicycle is not just child’s play,” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent Melisa Rhodes. “In addition to promoting healthy living habits, riding bicycles can teach children about becoming independent. With this new independence, children need to learn to follow important safety rules. One of the most important rules is to always wear a helmet.”
Parents can be great role models to promote bicycle safety and wearing helmets on every trip. A child who rides with companions wearing helmets or adults in general is more likely to wear a helmet himself. Even very young toddlers on tricycles should wear helmets to establish good habits.
When selecting a helmet for your child, follow these tips:
In addition to helmets, parents need to find safe places to ride, such as parks, sidewalks, or playgrounds. It is important to supervise preschoolers when they are riding, and keep children younger than 10 from riding bikes in the street.
When teaching children to ride bicycles, also educate them on these tips for safe bicycle riding:
For more information, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute's website at http://www.bhsi.org/, Bike Texas at http://www.biketexas.org, Safe Kids Worldwide at http://www.safekids.org/bike and Bike Texas at http://www.biketexas.org.