Biking is a great way for kids (and adults!) to get outside and get physical, but it needs to be done safely. Believe it or not, every year, about 300,000 kids across the country end up in the emergency room because of a head injury on a bike.
Most injuries can be prevented by simply wearing a helmet. Wearing a helmet is not only necessary to stay safe and protected, it’s also against the law in most states for children not to wear one.
Make sure the helmet fits correctly. It should be comfortable and not too tight or loose, but snug enough so it’s not moving around. Adjust it so that it’s set level on their head, making sure the back of the head is particularly protected. Choose a helmet that is not too heavy and provides good ventilation.
Keep it in good condition. If your child has had a bicycle accident that involved the helmet or the helmet has been dropped from a height, you must replace it even if there is no visible damage. And if it’s falling apart and the padding it falling out, it’s time for a new helmet.
A few other safety tips to consider:
Make sure the bike is the right size. Kids are always growing, so it’s important to check every summer to make sure it still fits your child appropriately. Have your child stand over the bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between him/her and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle.
Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that the brakes work well.
Finally, talk to your kids about the importance of safety while riding, even if it’s just outside your house. And remember, accidents do happen, but a scrape now and then is a lot better than a head injury.