Helmet Safety 101 (page 2)
Parents know that helmets are of paramount importance when it comes to keeping kids safe, but it can be overwhelming to walk into the sports section of a store and sort through the various available options. Thanks to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the process has become a little easier for parents.
Not all helmets are created equally, and different activities put children at risk for specific types of head injury. Helmets for specific sports are designed to protect children from the types of injury that are most associated with that activity.
“A child might want to choose a helmet solely based on its look, ” says Diane DuBois, RN, Answer Line nurse and community education instructor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Explain to your child that the first step is to find a helmet that is best designed for the activity of interest, the second step is to find the size that fits your child’s head, and the last decision is the appearance. Let your child choose the color and pattern of the shell—the outer covering of the helmet—after you narrow them down by the most important safety features.”
Wearing a bicycle helmet correctly is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of head injury and death resulting from a bicycle crash. At least 21 states and 149 municipalities have passed age-specific bicycle helmet laws, including mandates in areas of Missouri and Illinois that require children under age 17 to wear bicycle helmets at all times.
The helmet fit should be snug, level and stable. Adjust it using the eye-ear-mouth test. When your child looks upward, the front rim should be barely visible to the eye. When you feel just below the ear, each “Y” of the side straps should meet just below the ears. When your child yawns, the chinstrap should be snug against the jaw so the helmet pulls down a bit with the yawn.
“All bicycle helmets made after 1999 must meet a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission bicycle helmet standard. A bicycle helmet also may be used for recreational roller or inline skating, as well as for riding a non-powered scooter,” DuBois says. “However, a bicycle helmet is not suitable for skateboarding, dirt-bike riding or snowboarding, so a multi-sport helmet should be purchased for those activities instead.”
Help Is Here
Safety Stop at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is available to help parents ensure their children’s bicycle helmets fit properly for maximum safety. By scheduling an appointment with a helmet-safety expert, you can bring your child and his or her helmet to receive instruction on proper fitting while learning how to adjust it at home. Helmets also are available to purchase for $8.
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