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Every year more than 300,000 kids are brought to the hospital emergency room as a result of cycling accidents. Many of these cases involve head or traumatic brain injuries or even death. Adults and children alike can reduce the risk of serious head injury by 85 percent by wearing a properly fitted and approved safety helmet. The US government has created a safety standard for bike helmets. When you are purchasing a helmet be sure that it has a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). The helmet should fit properly. Many hospitals and national sports equipment retailers have helmet fitting days, but any local bike shop can be of assistance. Hats should never be worn beneath the helmet that they can compromise the fit and effectiveness. Chin straps should be buckled at all times and fit snugly to keep the helmet straight on the head and covering to forehead.
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Helmets should be worn as well as any other appropriate safety equipment for many outdoor activities that could expose your child to head trauma like skating, scootering, skiing and snowboarding. If your child should suffer a traumatic head or brain injury you must be sure that he or she refrains from all sports activities until you have full clearance from your family physician.
Other cycling safety measures to keep in mind:
If you or your child’s helmet is put to the test, replace it with a new one. They do not work as well after a serious crash.
Be sure that your child’s bike is the correct size and height. Your child’s feet should touch the ground when straddling the bike in a standing position.
Regularly check that the chain is oiled, the brakes are responding, the tires are sufficiently inflated and all wheels, pedals and handle bars are tight.
Be sure your child wears covered shoes with laces that are double knotted and pants legs etc. are free from getting caught in the chain.
Be sure that your child’s bicycle is fixed with a bell or horn.
Dress your child in light colored clothing and be sure there are reflectors on the bike. Also have fun with decorating the helmet with reflective stickers – helmets come in all sorts of great colors and designs but encourage your child to personalize his or her helmet!
Be sure to teach your child traffic rules, including stop signs, riding with traffic, using bike lanes when available and using indicating hand signals when turning. Young children (under 10) should not cycle in the street and should use sidewalks only.
Park bike paths are safe places that families can ride together. Teach your children when passing walkers or other bikers they should always do so on the left and announce their passing as “On your left!”.
Tell your child to look out for obstacles that can cause mishaps like wet leaves, potholes and deep puddles.
For long rides, be sure your child has a bottle of water. There are many types and models that fix to the bicycle itself.
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