Bike-sharing programs are popping up across the country as a fun and heart-healthy way for Americans to get to work, school, and play. But while bicycles are an excellent and environmentally-friendly way to get around, they also require proper equipment to be operated safely: helmets!
Helmets help to prevent the most serious consequences of bike-related injuries. In fact, studies show that helmets reduce the rates of head injury, traumatic brain injury, and even death in both adults and kids involved in bicycle injuries. Helmets protect your brain and keep you healthy. Reducing head injuries by 85%, they are one of the most effective injury-prevention techniques that we have. Despite this, many people don’t wear helmets or wear them incorrectly. So why is it that kids don’t wear their helmets, and how can we change this?
Helmet use depends on many different factors, including your age, your upbringing, and your surroundings. We know that many children stop wearing their helmets during their school years, even if they wore them while they were younger. By the time adolescents reach high school, 81% say they rarely or never wear a helmet while riding their bikes.[Some important reasons why youth may stop wearing helmets is that they don’t have access to them, they find them uncool, or they don’t think they are necessary.
There are many steps we can take to encourage the use of bike helmets in children and adolescents. As often seen with public health initiatives, the most effective techniques involve approaching this issue from many angles. There is some research to support that our most effective methods may be community-based projects that focus on both the provision of free helmets and on educating people on effective helmet use.
For access, some programs provide low- or no-cost helmets to families in need. In addition, some hospitals and many bicycle shops can often provide fittings for bike helmets.
Overall, biking is an excellent way to get around while protecting the environment and promoting heart health. However, it is important to wear a bike helmet to protect your brain as well. Increasing helmet usage will require a combination of approaches, including providing helmets to those who need them, and educating parents and kids on how to wear a bike helmet correctly every time they use one. Importantly, we will also need to shift the culture on bike helmets, and remind kids that it’s cool to love your brain!
Here are some easy tips for properly fitting a bike helmet:
1. Make sure you measure your head to ensure that your helmet size is appropriate
2. Adjust your helmet to fit your head snugly using the manual for your specific helmet to adjust it properly
3. Position the helmet correctly as shown in the photos
4. Make sure your straps lie flat on your face and form a “V” below your ears
5. Buckle the chin strap and make sure that you can fit no more than 1-2 fingers between the strap and your neck
6. Shake your head to make sure your helmet is snugly in place