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Expert Advice: How to Choose the Right Helmet for Your Child

May 25, 2019

Posted in Injury Prevention,Parenting,Sports,Orthopedics and Sports Medicine,Neurology and Neurosurgery

May is National Trauma Awareness Month. As children prepare to spend their summer break on bicycles, scooters and skateboards, now is the time to emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet. Chances are your child might object to a helmet. However, it can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a crash or fall.

Encouraging Helmet Use

According to research, wearing a helmet reduces the chance of head and brain injuries by as much as 56%. Follow these tips to promote helmet use and help ensure a fun, safe ride for your child.

  • Start early. Making your child wear a helmet with their first tricycle will help lay the foundation for safe riding throughout their entire life.
  • Set an example. If you ride a bike, scooter or skateboard, wear a helmet yourself. If your child sees you wearing a helmet, they’ll be much more likely to wear one too.
  • Make it a habit. Much like brushing their teeth or making their bed, when your child consistently wears a helmet, they will eventually remember to do so without being told.
  • Make it a rule. Stand your ground and don’t ever let your child ride without their helmet. It’s just as important as wearing a seat belt in the car.

In addition to bikes, scooters and skateboards, helmets should always be worn with roller skates and ATVs. As motor scooters have seen a rise in popularity in Little Rock and other areas, keep in mind that these are not for use by children under the age of 16 and riders should always use a helmet.

Choosing a Helmet

When it comes to picking out a helmet, it is imperative to find the right one for your child. Rather than grabbing the first one you see online or at the store, follow these guidelines to help ensure maximum safety.

  • With different helmets designed specifically for bikes, skateboards and ATVs, make sure your child is using the correct helmet for their ride.
  • Choose one that meets or exceeds the safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission by looking for the CPSC sticker located inside the helmet or on the packaging.
  • Always buy a new helmet. Bike helmets are designed to work in only one accident, and you may not know the history of a used helmet. If your child is involved in a crash, replace the helmet immediately before they go on another ride.
  • Let your child help pick out their helmet. If they like the style and the way it feels, they will be more likely to wear it than if it was picked out for them.
  • Follow the 4-2-1 rule. When your child tries on a helmet, you should be able to place two fingers above their eyebrow to the bottom of the helmet, four fingers to make a V-shape around the bottom of their ears and one finger under the strap beneath their chin. After fitting to the rule, have your child shake their head. If the fit is right, the helmet will stay on tight.

For more information about helmet safety and other ways to protect your child this summer, visit the Arkansas Children’s Injury Prevention Center online or call 501-364-3400. The Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's is the only multi-faceted injury prevention program in Arkansas whose mission is to reduce injury, death and disability in Arkansas through service, education, innovative research and advocacy. The center’s team of experts works with partners throughout the state to educate families on effective prevention strategies, reinforcing the fact that it only takes a moment to lose your life due to an injury, but it also only takes a moment to practice safety and prevention.

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