Families are spending as much time outdoors as possible – especially during these COVID summer days. Whether biking, rollerblading, skateboarding or riding a scooter, teaching our children safety guidelines will ensure they return to school healthy in September.
I have often heard parents say, “I never wore a helmet when I was a kid riding a tricycle,” and I respond with a visual statement that often brings reality to the forefront: “think of your child’s head as a ripe melon.”
A child’s head is comprised of two bone plates that don’t fuse together until the child is approximately 18 to 19 months of age. Even after the plates have fused, a child’s skull remains soft allowing for growth. In other words, a child’s head is like a soft, ripe melon. If that melon is dropped on concrete or asphalt from a height of two feet, what happens? Of course, the melon cracks! Now take a ripe melon, put it in a safety helmet, and then drop it from a height of two feet. This time the melon is protected!
Most accidents and injuries are preventable if parents follow these basic safety guidelines:
85% of head injuries are prevented when children wear safety helmets while bicycling (with or without training wheels), rollerblading, skateboarding and even riding a tricycle and scooter.
Parents should set a good example for their children by wearing a safety helmet when biking. Children are becoming increasingly independent at a very young age but it is our job as responsible parents to instil safety measures that they will adopt through their tween and teen years. Safety helmets are important for ALL ages!
Ensure your child’s helmet fits properly and that the strap is fastened securely.
If you are not sure your child’s helmet fits properly or don’t know if you can pass down your older child’s safety helmet to a younger child, a sales associate at a local bike store will be more than happy to help you.
Bike helmets are designed to protect your head for only one crash. After a crash, a helmet should be replaced even if it does not look damaged because the structure has been compromised - and therefore no longer reliable.
Helmets should be replaced when they are more than 5 years old because plastic dries out and becomes brittle with age.
An expensive helmet with fancy graphics or a cute design does not provide you with a guarantee it will protect your child's head.
There are a variety of helmet styles for each sport. Studies have shown that people fall differently depending on the sport they are playing and therefore, the type of head protection they require. In other words, don’t assume that a bike helmet will protect your child for ALL sports. If you’re not sure what type of sports helmet your child is wearing, feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to reply.
There are many bike helmets sold in Canada that do not have minimum safety requirements. I recommend you ensure your child’s helmet meets CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approval before purchasing. An expensive helmet with fancy graphics or a cute design does not provide you with a guarantee it will protect your child’s head. The only regulated safety helmets in Canada are for hockey, equestrian and motorcycle.
Why aren’t all helmets regulated?
Helmet manufacturers don’t want the expense of safety testing so they lobby against added regulations. As a parent and helmet safety advocate, I believe ALL helmets must be regulated.
If the cost of helmets prevents you from purchasing a safety helmet for your child, Tail Wags Helmet Covers, is currently exploring partnerships in order to provide FREE safety helmets to kids in need. We believe that no child should be prevented from biking due to lack of a safety helmet.
Overwhelmed by all of the statistics and safety helmet dos and don’ts?
If you are, you are not alone but please keep the following in mind. Once you and your children are in the habit of wearing your safety helmets, it will become second nature. It wasn’t that long ago when car seat belt legislation was passed and you were unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the routine…now you probably don’t think twice about buckling up before you pull out of the driveway.
About the Author
After suffering a near fatal ski accident, Karyn Climans’ ongoing mission is to promote helmet use and safety awareness for every sport.
Established in 2006, Tail Wags Helmet Covers is owned and operated by Karyn Climans in Toronto, Canada, where she designs and manufactures whimsical helmet covers that fit over any type of helmet – making safety fun and stylish.
Twitter: @karynclimans or @tailwagshelmets
All photos in this article are courtesy of Karyn Climans, Owner of Tail Wags Helmet Covers.
For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following articles and websites:
Ottawa Citizen – City to Require Children 10 and under to wear CSA approved helmets for skating
Government of Canada – Sports Gear Safety Tips
Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following videos: