Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Riding a bike is a fun way for your child to exercise, but it can also put them at risk for injury if they do not know basic bicycle safety rules. Every year, more than 500,000 people go to the Emergency Room for bicycle-related injuries and roughly 700 people die each year from those injuries. Children under 15 years-old are at the biggest risk for getting injured while riding a bicycle.
The most important thing that a child should know before they ride a bike is that they should always wear a helmet. Your child should wear their helmet even if they are only pedaling on the driveway or up and down the sidewalk. They are still at risk for a head injury even if they are not on the street and most accidents occur at or near home.
Your child should go with you to buy the helmet to make sure that you get the right size. The helmet should fit snuggly and not move in any direction. When the chinstrap is fastened, you should only be able to place only one finger between it and your child’s chin. The helmet should lie directly on top of your child’s head, cover the child’s forehead and not tilt in any direction. No caps or hats should be worn under the helmet.
If your child has an accident and hits his or her head on a hard surface, you will need to buy a new helmet. A helmet does not work properly after it hits a hard surface, and should be thrown away even if it does not look damaged.
Brightly-colored clothing should be worn, as well as reflectors, so that other people can easily see your child while they are on their bike.
Besides always wearing their helmet, other basic bicycle safety tips that you should teach your child include to:
Always look both ways when leaving your driveway or turning around corners
Always ride on the right side of the road and go in the same direction as traffic
Always walk their bike across a crosswalk at busy intersections
Always watch where they are riding and to stay away from dangers (such as
Not riding too closely to parked cars
Never ride on the sidewalk
Never ride at night
Never wear headphones when they are riding their bike
Obey traffic signals and stop at all stop signs
Ride single file if they are riding with friends
Use hand signals when turning or stopping (After looking behind to signal a
Children under 9 years of age should never ride in the street and if your child is just learning to ride a bicycle, no matter how old they are, they should ride with a an adult along until they gain enough skill and confidence to ride alone.