April 4, 2005
Bike enthusiasts reminded of the importance of wearing a helmet
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Physicians and staff at Methodist Rehabilitation Center are encouraging parents and children to wear appropriate safety gear when riding bicycles, scooters, roller blades or skateboards.
“Parents must remember that a helmet is a necessity, not an accessory for bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates or in-line skates,” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, the Jackson hospital’s medical director. “And children who are outside riding bikes should always wear reflective clothing or stickers or use bike reflectors.”
Each year about 800 bicyclists die in the United States, says Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program.
“Unfortunately, children ages 5 to 14 visit the emergency room more for bicycle-related injuries than from any other sport,” says Fairburn. “Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.”
Fairburn offers the following tips for bike safety:
- Always wear a helmet. The helmet should fit snugly and not move from side to side. The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.
- Inflate tires properly and check brakes before riding.
- See and be seen. Always have reflectors on your helmet and bike. Wear bright fluorescent colors when riding.
- Obey traffic laws. Stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Look right, then left, then right again at all stop signs, stop lights and intersections. Always check behind you before swerving or changing lanes. Ride with the traffic, not against the traffic. Stop or slow to a crawl before entering any roadway or at blind intersections
- Ride predictably. No swerving or curb jumping and stay off the sidewalks and most importantly—pay attention.
More than 500,000 bicyclists are treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle related injuries, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Of those, over 65,000 suffer head injuries.