Heads Up on Helmet Safety

Health Tips from UPMC Health Plan

Man teaching a boy wearing a helmet how to ride a bike. Most children don’t like to wear helmets when biking. But the facts show that helmets work. A properly fitted bicycle helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by 85 percent and reduce the risk of brain injury by 88 percent, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Getting children in the “helmet habit” helps protect their brains from serious injury.

Even professional bike riders know that bike crashes or collisions can happen at any time. In three of four bike crashes, the biker usually suffers some sort of injury to the head. Each year in the United States, about half a million kids are seriously injured in bicycle-related accidents; between 45 percent and 88 percent of bicycle-related brain injuries would be prevented with the use of a helmet.

A well-fitted helmet gives your child added protection from injury, so take a few minutes to learn the basics:

  • The helmet should sit flat on the head — make sure it is level and is not tilted back or forward. If the helmet leans forward, adjust the rear straps. If it tilts backward, tighten the front straps.
  • The front of the helmet should sit low — about two finger widths above the eyebrows to protect the forehead.
  • The straps on each side should form a “Y” over the ears, with one part of the strap in front of and one behind — just below the earlobes.
  • The chinstrap should buckle securely at the throat so that the helmet feels snug and does not move up and down or from side to side.

Head injuries aren’t just limited to bikers. Crashes during other outdoor activities such as rollerblading, skateboarding, ice skating, and skiing can also result in head injury. So use your head to protect your child’s. Make helmets required gear for all family members when participating in these activities.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kidshealth.org.

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