Memorial Regional Health: If you ride a bike, you need a helmet | CraigDailyPress.com

Memorial Regional Health: If you ride a bike, you need a helmet

Lauren Glendenning/Brought to you by Memorial Regional Health

Helmet use greatly reduces the risk of bicycle-related brain injuries in children.

Children and teens have the highest rates of bicycle-related injuries in the United States, accounting for more than 1/3 of all bicycle-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With so many head injuries occurring on bicycles, it's important that all parents ensure their children wear properly fitted helmets while out on two wheels.

Not all families have access to fitted helmets, but the Bicycle Rodeo, on May 5, aims to provide them to anyone in the community who needs them.

Detective Norm Rimmer and other representatives from the Craig Police Department, along with representatives from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, are hosting the event for the youth of Craig. They'll be helping families with helmet checks, helmet fittings, bike registrations and a series of safety and skill-building exercises related to riding bikes and the rules of the road.

"We want to make sure that our community youth are equipped with bicycle safety, so they can have a fun and safe summer," said Ryan Dennison, recreation manager with the city of Craig Parks and Recreation Department.

Helmet safety

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There are more than 26,000 traumatic brain injuries to children and adolescents every year in the United States due to bicycle accidents, according to the CDC, and head injuries are the leading cause of death among all cyclists, 85 percent of which can be prevented by wearing a helmet, according to a 2015 study of bicycle-riding children in Minnesota, published in the journal "Injury Epidemiology."

"While child cyclists, particularly younger children, appear to be at greater risk of head injuries than adults, helmet use is low, despite legislation requiring helmet use among younger riders in 21 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the adoption of many local city and county ordinances," according to the study.

Another analysis of bicycle helmets found helmets provide a 63- to 88-percent reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injuries for cyclists of all ages.

In Colorado, there is no law mandating children of any age wear helmets, but the absence of a law doesn't mean parents should simply use their discretion. Research shows bike helmet use saves lives and reduces brain injuries. For children, whose brains are still developing well into their 20s, this information is compelling.

If children wore bike helmets every time they got on their bikes, it could prevent 135 to 155 deaths, 39,000 to 45,000 traumatic brain injuries and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and facial injuries per year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

Visit the Bicycle Rodeo May 5

The Bicycle Rodeo will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Woodbury Sports Complex and is free to children age 6 to 14. The Craig Police Department and parks and recreation staff will provide safety tips and demonstrations. Memorial Regional Health will donate free bike helmets to the first 50 kids to register.

Bike safety tips

  • Wear a properly-fitted helmet. It is the best way to prevent head injuries and death.
  • Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If this is not possible, ride in the same direction as traffic as far to the right as possible.
  • Use hand signals, and follow the rules of the road. Be predictable by making sure you ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars.
  • Wear bright colors, and use lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors on your clothing and bike will help you be seen.
  • Ride with your children. Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own.
  • Helmets should meet the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Source: Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit that works to keep kids safe from injuries.

How to fit a bike helmet

  • Make sure it’s snug, level and stable.
  • The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead
  • The side straps should be adjusted to form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of the ears.
  • Center the left buckle under the chin. It’s easiest to adjust chin straps for tightness when the helmet is off. No more than one or two fingers should fit under the chin strap once it’s buckled in place.
  • Open your mouth wide — the helmet should pull down on your head.
  • Does the helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, retighten the chin strap, and test again.
  • If the helmet rocks forward into your eyes, tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Also, retighten the chin strap.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration