If you’re teaching your child how to ride without training wheels this summer, it’s also time to teach them how to wear a bike helmet. Correct fit and proper positioning are key to letting bike helmets do their work. Consider these facts:
- One study found that in a bike crash, children with ill-fitting helmets are twice as likely to incur a head injury as kids with the proper fit.
- Wearing a helmet tipped too far back leaves a child with a 52% greater risk of head injury than those wearing helmets properly centered.
Choosing a Helmet
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautions parents that bike helmets come in different sizes, like hats – it’s not one size fits all. The first step in proper fit is to choose a helmet of the right size. The helmet should fit snugly, which can be matched in the store or online by measuring the child’s head.
Then use the sizing pads provided to customize the fit. The pads can later be reduced or removed as the child grows.
Choose a helmet that meets safety standards. For biking, look for a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or Snell sticker inside.
The Seattle Children’s Hospital provides a “Quick-Fit Check” to help parents remember to check the following:
- EYES: THE HELMET SITS ONE TO TWO FINGER WIDTHS ABOVE THE EYE BROWS, LEVEL ON THE CHILD’S HEAD, AND RESTING LOW ON THE FOREHEAD. IF IT’S PUSHED UP TOO HIGH, IT WON’T PROTECT THE FACE OR HEAD WELL.
- EARS: THE STRAPS ARE EVEN, FORMING A “Y” UNDER EACH EARLOBE, AND LAY FLAT AGAINST THE HEAD.
- MOUTH: THE STRAP IS BUCKLED LOOSE ENOUGH BELOW THE CHIN SO THAT YOUR CHILD CAN BREATHE, BUT TIGHT ENOUGH SO THERE IS ONLY ROOM TO INSERT ONE FINGER BETWEEN THE BUCKLE AND CHIN. TO TEST THE FT, WHEN YOUR CHILD OPENS HIS OR HER MOUTH, YOU SHOULD SEE THE HELMET PULL DOWN ON TOP.
One of the best ways to get your children in the habit of wearing their bike helmets is for parents to do so as well. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that children are more likely to wear a helmet if riding with others (peers or adults) who are also wearing one.