By Julia Pickens, MD
Ministry Medical Group Rhinelander Pediatrics.
Summer is finally here and people are enjoying the beautiful weather with outdoor activities. Bicycling is an outdoor activity that is enjoyed by all ages. It is a great activity to improve overall health but it is important that this is done safely. There are dangers present with biking such as collisions with pedestrians, vehicles or other objects. This is particularly important because injuries that occur while biking can be prevented with common safety measures. Preventable injuries/accidents account for 6% of pediatric deaths and bicycle related injuries are just a part. Many of these injuries are head injuries which are minimized by wearing a helmet. A proper fitting bicycle helmet prevents 50 to 80 percent of head injuries in pediatric patients following a collision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children wear a helmet regardless of the type of bike, or whether they are a passenger on a bicycle.
Tips for finding a proper helmet:
1. Make sure it’s certified! Look for a helmet that is certified by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Look for a sticker on the inside lining that it is certified by the CPSC.
2. New is best! Helmets that have been in an accident or are older than five years must be discarded.
3. Fit is Key! The helmet should fit low on the forehead but be parallel with the ground so it is not tipped forward or backwards. The straps should fit snuggly. The helmet should fit tight on the head and should move minimally when jiggled.
4. Role Model is Important! Children look up to their parents as an example. Children of parents who also wear helmets are more likely to wear helmets themselves.
Wearing a helmet is only one aspect to bicycle safety. Children should learn about other features of road safety since they are sharing the roadway with other vehicles. They would ride with traffic and use hand signals. Children need to obey traffic signs. Roadways specified for bicycles should be used if available. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children should not ride their bicycle at night. It is also recommended that children not ride as a passenger of a bicycle until they are at least one year of age and are equipped with a proper helmet.
Enjoy your summer and be safe on your bicycle!
As a pediatrician, Dr. Pickens cares for children from birth to early adulthood. She specializes in diseases and ailments specific to young and growing bodies and can manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children in every stage of development. She has a special interest in caring for newborns and promoting the benefits of breastfeeding; and in obesity screening and prevention for pediatric patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 715.361.4765.