Not sure if your kids really need helmets when biking? This photo will convince you
In 2019, we know that kids need to be wearing helmets if they’re going to do certain activities, including, but not limited to, riding bikes, skateboarding, roller blading, ice skating, horseback riding and contact sports. Pretty much any activity that might involve your kid’s head meeting the ground or another person? Strap on a helmet, no ifs, ands or buts.
But just in case there are any parents out there who need a little more convincing, let this pediatrician’s photo do the talking.
Dr. Free Hess, pediatrician, child safety expert, and mom, posted a photo to her Facebook page, PediMom, showing a children’s bike helmet after the child had been in an accident. Spoiler alert: The helmet was absolutely mangled, in a way no kid’s head ever should be.
“I see children in my Pediatric ER for head trauma after falling from a bike very often,” Hess wrote in the caption. “Some of these children are struck by cars but many sustain head injuries simply from losing control of their bikes while riding. Helmets in this situation can make the difference between a simple concussion and severe neurological injury and even death.”
She also cited a recent study by the University of Michigan, in which 18 percent of parents reported that their kids don’t wear helmets when they ride their bikes. That’s almost one in five, and it is completely unacceptable.
“Take a look at the helmet below. Imagine this blow being taken by a child’s head WITHOUT the protection of a helmet,” she wrote. “If you or a child is riding a bike, skateboard, ice skates, roller skates, hover boards, scooter, or anything else that has a risk of head trauma you need to have a helmet on. EVERY TIME.”
She’s absolutely right. There is no reason for a kid to ever ride a bike or any other wheeled object without a helmet strapped firmly to their delicate, precious little head. Even something like a scooter or tricycle isn’t safe without a helmet. Hess reinforces just how much they help kids avoid serious injuries. “It is not infrequent that I see a child with a traumatic brain injury that I’m sure would have been much less severe, or even avoided altogether, if a they had been wearing a helmet,” she tells Scary Mommy.
Hess is also adamant that a lot of care and consistency needs to go into making sure kids comply. “Simply telling a child to wear a helmet is not enough. Parents need to check to be sure they are actually wearing them when out and about and assure that everyone in the family know that no helmet means no riding (or no doing whatever other activity they’re doing when they should be wearing a helmet),” she tells us.
Even if your kid never leaves your driveway or cul-de-sac, a helmet is still mandatory. Safe Kids Worldwide found that “nearly 60% of all childhood bicycle-related deaths occur on minor roads. The typical bicycle/motor vehicle crash occurs within 1 mile of the bicyclist’s home.” And according to the Children’s Safety Network, head injuries are responsible for 62.6 percent of all bicycle-related deaths for kids.
Hess has some helpful advice on helmet use for kids. “To assure proper protection a helmet should fit appropriately, straps need to be tightened and clipped at all times, and if there is a fall that results in the helmet striking any hard surface the helmet needs to be replaced. Even a relatively small impact can result in damage that can not be seen by simple inspection and can decrease it’s ability to protect as it should in future impacts,” she tells us.
The bottom line is there’s no such thing as a safe way to ride a bike without a helmet. If your kids don’t put on helmets every time, even for a quick ride to the mailbox or a friend’s house, it’s time to make them start.