April 17, 2011

Bike Helmet Safety

Spring is here...or is it?  With the snowy, slushy weather in the GTA this past weekend, it's easy to forget that May is just around the corner.  With spring weather comes more outdoor play.  My boys have already been out playing on bikes, scooters and skateboards.  I want them to have as much fun as possible, but safety always comes first.  They never ride without wearing bike helmets.

In 2007, Transport Canada reported that over 1000 children under the age of 15 were injured while riding their bikes, with more than 60% of the children injured being 11-14 years of age.  Injuries during wheeled activities occur due to a combination of factors, including (lack of) experience, high speed, stunts and tricks, and loss of control.

    Big-A & Lil-J geared up at the cottage.
    Public Health Agency of Canada stats:
    • 8% of emergency room visits are for bicycle related traumatic brain injuries.
    • 6% of emergency room visits are for scooter related traumatic brain injuries.
    • 4% of emergency room visits are for skateboard and in-line skating related traumatic brain injuries.
    • Other common injuries related to the activities listed above include broken bones, facial injuries and serious skin abrasions.

    A child's skull is only one centimeter thick and can be fractured by an impact of 7-10 km/hr.  Children usually exceed this speed on a bicycle.  Approximately 3/4 of all cycling fatalities involve head injuries.

    In Ontario, all children under 18 years old are required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on a public road.  The average fine for not doing so is $75.00.

    The MTO advises that when purchasing a helmet, be sure that it fits comfortably and meets safety standards.  They suggest checking the inside of the helmet for stickers from one or more of the following organizations:
    • Canadian Standard Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
    • Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
    • American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
    • American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
    • British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
    • Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990
    You can find helmets ranging from $15 to $30 at Toys R Us, Walmart and Canadian Tire.  Combo packs (helmet plus knee and elbow pads) will cost you $24.99 at Canadian Tire.  Standard helmets are suitable for bicycle and scooter riding, as well as in-line skating.  Skateboarders need a helmet with more coverage at the back of the head.

    Put your child's safety first and avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER this spring and summer.  Accidents happen to the most cautious people, but wearing a helmet will reduce the extent of an injury during wheeled activities.  And set a good example, mom & dad, by wearing a helmet yourself!

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