Summer is quickly approaching. With warmer temps and longer hours of daylight, it’s a great time for kids to spend time doing outdoor activities, like riding bikes.
“Most kids love to ride bikes, and it is a fun, healthy form of exercise that should be encouraged. But most kids don’t think about the dangers associated with the activity,” said Dr. Stephen O’Grady, Mercy Clinic pediatrician. “As parents, we can’t prevent every injury that may happen, but we can educate children on safety.”
Bicycles should travel the same direction as vehicles. This means you should ride on the right hand side of the street. Bicycles are also required to obey all traffic laws. You must obey stoplights and stop signs, and follow all other traffic laws. Bicyclists are also required to use hand signals to notify motorists of turns or stops.
Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. Most deaths related to bicycle falls and collisions involve head injuries. This means that wearing a helmet can save your life.
Each year, bicycle-related deaths number about 900, and U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat more than 500,000 people for bicycle-related injuries.
“More children, ages 5 to 14, go to United States hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with bicycles than with any other sport,” O’Grady said. “Many of these injuries involve the head.”
A bike helmet should fit comfortably and securely. It should be worn level on the head (not tilted back on the crown or pulled low over the forehead). You should not be able to move the helmet in any direction, back-to-front or side-to-side. The chin strap should be securely fastened. If needed, the helmet's sizing pads can help improve the fit.
“Make sure you have the proper size helmet for your head,” O’Grady said. “If your helmet does not fit properly, it will not protect your head if you have a fall or collision.”
Dr. Stephen O’Grady practices at Mercy Clinic Pediatrics, 530 N Monte Vista, Suite B, in Ada. To make an appointment with Dr. O’Grady, please call (580) 453-3230.