Being active outside can be lots of fun, especially in the summer. It can be as easy as riding a bike, but it’s important to do it safely. Too often, children end up in the emergency room after falling off their bikes, and the consequences can be deadly without the right protection.
From minor concussions, to skull fractures, and severe bleeds in the brain, cycling related head injuries can be a real headache. For the most part, they’re entirely preventable with a good quality helmet. Dean Hertzler, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, has four tips that can help you get moving on bike safety.
Four Tips on How to Cycle to Survive
1. If It’s Got Wheels, Wear a Helmet
Helmets provide a significant level of protection. It can be the difference between life and death and also the difference between a great summer and a significant injury. If you’re on a bike or skateboard, wear properly fitted safety equipment, like a helmet, knee and elbows pads.
Remember: Florida state law requires all riders under 16 years of age to wear a helmet when on a bicycle.
2. Fit It First
A helmet offers the best protection when it’s fitted properly. You don’t want it moving side to side or forward and back, which can happen if it’s too big. The ideal fit is snug but not too tight. The chin strap should be secure and the helmet should be the right size for your head so it stays put when you’re on the move.
3. Tune Up Before You Turn Up
Inspect your bike and make sure it’s well maintained with working brakes, that the wheels turn and that nothing gets stuck during normal cycling conditions. A mechanical mishap can cause a bike crash so be ready to ride.
4. One Fall? Replace It All
A helmet absorbs impact and if it’s been in an accident it needs to be replaced. It just won’t protect your head as well after a second incident because they weren’t designed for multiple impacts. Get a new helmet so you’re ready to get back on the road to fun.
Datasource: Dr. Hertzler bike safety tips
Wearing helmets when needed, making sure they fit, ensuring the bike is ready to ride and that helmets are replaced after they take a hit can keep biking the way it should be: a fun way to get active and enjoy the fresh air.
Cycling gives kids independence, cardiovascular endurance, provides a fun alternative to screen time and lets them practice active transportation. But before they hop on a bike, make sure everything’s alright. Think about Dr. Hertzler’s safe cycling tips so your kids can ride to survive and get out there and thrive!