With spring weather upon us, children will soon be outside cycling, skateboarding and rollerblading. With this in mind, there is no better time to remind parents of the importance of bicycle helmets and how to properly fit and use them.
Bicycle helmets are designed to protect the skull and brain in the event of a fall. A fall may not appear serious at that moment, but even the simplest of falls can result in a serious injury to the brain. Research has shown that bicycle helmets can be extremely effective in preventing head injuries, when worn correctly.
Many provinces have laws requiring bike riders to wear a helmet. In Ontario, anyone under the age of 18 is required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on any public road.
Parents and children should learn how to properly purchase and wear a helmet. A bike helmet should fit securely and not slide around. You want to ensure that the helmet goes all the way around your child’s head and covers the forehead up to an inch above the eyes. The same goes for the helmet straps. The straps need to come all the way around the ears and under the chin.
Parents should look for a helmet that fits comfortably and meets safety standards. Parents should also check the inside of the helmet for stickers from one or more of the following organizations:
• Canadian Standard Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
• Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
• American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
• American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
• British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
• Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990
No matter how great a helmet may look or fit, it won’t protect your child from injury if it comes off during a fall. Injuries can be greatly reduced or even avoided when the helmet is strapped on correctly and positioned level on the head and the straps snug. Make sure to strap on the helmet properly each and every time. Before your chid rides, also take a moment to visually check over the helmet to ensure it’s not cracked or damaged. Remind your child to take care of the helmet and not to throw it around. That could damage the helmet. If the helmet is involved in an accident, be sure to get your child a new one. Remember, as a child grows they will require a new helmet that properly fits and protects their head.
Taking a few moments to carry out the steps above can help reduce the chance of serious injury to your child.