Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
Monday, March 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — As the weather warms, people are taking their bikes out and riding.
That’s great, but it’s important to prepare for a safe bike season. The national rate of bicycle accidents is 2 fatalities and he 2,630 accidents every week requiring an emergency room visit.
Angela Mountsthe community car seat safety program coordinator at the Pennsylvania State Hospital for Children’s Health in Hershey, offers parents tips for young cyclists to avoid serious childhood riding accidents.
“I had a cousin who was hit by a car [while on a bike]” Mounts said in a hospital news release.
Mounts’ cousin did not die, but suffered injuries for the rest of his life.
“Kids go around thinking, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,'” she said. “But it’s very important to protect yourself.”
A helmet is at the top of her list. Maunts said that without a helmet, a child’s chance of being seriously injured increases by 40 percent if she is involved in a collision while riding a bicycle.
Parents must also wear a helmet while riding.
Aim for safety over style, added Mountz. Look for American National Standards Institute or Snell Memorial Foundation stickers to make sure your child’s helmet is certified.
Check your child’s helmet every two months to make sure it fits properly.
The helmet should fit snugly on the body, not so tight as to block circulation, and not allow too much movement.
Ask your child to open his mouth. Do they feel the helmet holding their head? If not, try tightening it.
The rim of the helmet should be two finger widths above your eyebrows.
The chin strap should fit over your chin and be buckled during use. Make sure the straps form a V under your ears.
Children riding scooters and skateboards must also wear a helmet.
The next consideration is the bike itself. Make sure it fits snugly, even if it’s a hand-me-down.
Have your child stand next to it. Are their hips parallel to the seat? When you’re not pedaling, your feet should touch the ground easily.
Check your bicycle tires and brakes. Is the chain loose? Are there any loose parts? If your bike is too big or damaged, consider replacing it rather than reusing it.
Choose good shoes when you ride. It’s sneakers, not sandals. Make sure your child is not wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the bike chain.
You can wear other protective gear as long as it doesn’t make running difficult.
Talk to older children about the rules of the road. A motorist must keep a 4-foot distance when passing a cyclist, but cyclists must obey traffic laws. You must signal your turn, stop at a crosswalk, and yield to pedestrians. Cyclists must ride with traffic, not against it.
The U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration more About bicycle safety.
Source: Penn State Health, News Release, March 15, 2023
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