Bicycle Helmets Safety

Bicycling is a great way to enjoy being outside, exercising and being used instead of a car for transportation both to work and to other places. When I was growing up, I am not sure bike helmets existed. They are now the norm and should be worn by everybody, adults and children alike. In many cases, children are injured because they were not wearing a helmet.

It takes about a half second to fall five feet. Falls happen for many reasons such as hitting something in the road, encountering vehicles or colliding with an object such as a rock, log or tree while mountain biking in the woods. Whatever the reason, you will not have time to protect your head or make sure your helmet is on properly.

Statistics show that there are approximately 17,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths each year from bicycle accidents. According to John Hopkins Injury Prevention Center, there is one head injury every 15 hours. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) stated that head injuries cause 75% of over 800 annual deaths due to bicycle crashes.

BHSI also states that helmets prevent 85% of cyclists' head injuries. Unfortunately, a helmet does not protect your head from all impacts. The impact site may be outside the protective range of the helmet, the impact may be so severe that the helmet fails, or the brain may move inside the skull so much that it could cause a brain injury.

In addition to wearing a helmet, do your best to avoid falls. Be sure your front wheel is firmly attached and that your brakes work well. Respect other road users and anticipate their actions. Next, put other road users in a position to see you, so that they can adjust their actions properly. Make yourself conspicuous by wearing white or bright colors during the day. Wear reflective garments at night. Be sure that your bicycle has the reflectors that were attached at the time of purchase and add illuminated devices for night riding.


SAFETY TIPS FOR HELMETS

• Ensure that helmets have a strong strap and an equally strong fastener, that the strap is properly adjusted and the helmet fits snugly.

• Verify that helmets have an "EPS" expanded polystyrene (foam with a thin, plastic outer shell).

• Check for a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) sticker inside the helmet. Helmets sold after 1999 in the United States must meet CPSC standards.

• Replace helmets if involved in a crash. Manufacturers also suggest replacing helmets after five years.

• Replace buckles if they crack or if pieces break off.

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