Riding a bicycle is a great way for children to stay healthy and active, but each year over 300,000 children take a trip to the emergency room from riding injuries. A smaller number, about 10,000 children, will have injuries severe enough to require a hospital admission.
One of the most concerning injuries children receive are head or brain injuries when they fall and hit their head. To prevent these problems, adults can take several steps and teach children how to stay safe when having fun.
- Wear a helmet. A properly fitting helmet should cover the forehead and not slide around. Straps should always be fastened and tightened securely. Check your child’s helmet for a sticker showing it’s been approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). This means the helmet has been tested for quality. Children should wear a helmet EVERY time they ride, even if it’s a short trip.
- Be bright. It’s a good idea to dress children in brightly colored clothes when riding so others (including drivers) will see them. Reflectors on helmets or on the bike itself will also help. If possible, ride in areas approved for bicycles and away from heavy traffic.
- Maintain your bike. A properly maintained bicycle is less likely to break and cause a fall. To ensure there are no problems when riding, make sure your chain is oiled and moving smoothly, and that your handlebars, wheels and seat fit tightly. Monitor brakes for sticking problems, and make sure that tires have proper pressure.
For more information on bicycle safety, talk to your pediatrician. Stop by a local bike shop for help finding a helmet or for assistance with maintenance. Your local health department is another great resource, so take time to get educated, prepare, and have some biking fun.