“If I could prescribe a helmet to every child in Ireland, I would”
A children’s emergency department doctor has warned parents to ensure their kids are wearing helmets while riding bikes this summer.
There is more good weather on the way, so lots of children will be heading out to play well into the brighter evenings. While cycling is great fun and a great form of exercise, it is so important to protect children.
Every summer in Children’s Health Ireland’s (CHI) Emergency Departments, there is a big jump in injury presentations from children who were not wearing a helmet on their bikes and suffered a fall or an accident.
CHI staff report treating things like skull fractures, concussions, lacerations and facial injuries that could have been avoided if children and teenagers were wearing helmets on their bikes.
This hike in numbers begins every year in May, continues for the summer months, and appears to coincide with good weather and school holidays.
Dr Carol Blackburn, a Consultant Paediatrician in Emergency Medicine at CHI at Crumlin, says: “I urge parents not to underestimate how much speed children build up on a bike, and the impact it can have on their bodies in a crash or collision.
“Just like it is a given that everyone wears a seatbelt in a car, it should be ingrained from a young age that everyone always wears a helmet on their bike.
“Even smaller children on their scooters should start the habit early. If I could prescribe a helmet to every child in Ireland, I would.”
Dr Blackburn went on to say: “Helmets reduce the likelihood of brain injury by over 80% and reduces the likelihood of facial injuries by 65%.
“In countries where the wearing of bicycle helmets has been legislated, evidence reports significant reductions in hospitalisations from head injuries after introduction of helmets as a law.”
Here are five tips to get the perfect fit on your child’s helmet:
- The best way to get the best fit is to first measure your child’s head and then buy the right size helmet for them. But even then, it will need some adjusting.
- The helmet should cover most of their forehead with only room for two fingers between their eyebrows and their helmet. If it is too low, they won’t be able to see properly. If it is too high, it won’t protect their forehead properly.
- The helmet should not move from side to side or backwards and forwards. Use the bands within the helmet to make sure it is stable on their head. Ask them to shake their head to make sure it stays in place.
- The straps should fit below their ears and be firm and snug. You should not be able to get more than one finger in between the straps and their chin. If you can, tighten them up.
Check the fit regularly as straps can loosen over time.
- Don’t forget to set the best example and wear your helmet too.