Heartbeat : Making Sure a Bicycle Helmet Fits

LUBBOCK, TX - With the Christmas season starting, children may be writing their wish lists, and that could include a bicycle. Covenant Health Dr. Samuel Herrera said if that's the case, also make sure there's a helmet included.

First, when it comes to getting a bicycle for a child, Dr. Herrera said it's best if you get a bike that will fit your child.

"I know parents want to surprise their kids at Christmas, but it's a good idea to have the child present when you start looking for a bike," he said. "You want the child to actually be able to get on the bike, put his hands on the handlebar and sit and actually hold himself up, upright on the bike."

Along with the bike, Dr. Herrera said to make sure the child also has a helmet that fits properly.

"You want the strap tight, with two fingers underneath the chin, nice and snug, and also, you want the brim about two finger widths from the brow, the forehead, the eyebrows as well," he said. 

Dr. Herrera is a physician at Covenant Children's Emergency Room. 

"There's actually about half a million accidents that occur, bike-related accidents that occur across the country that are seen in emergency rooms," he said. "Of those, 150,000 of those kids have some kind of brain or head injury, which can be alleviated with a bicycle helmet."

There are different kinds of helmets depending on what kind of activity you are doing, and they serve different purposes.

"Most parents think if you have a helmet, it's one that protects all," Dr. Herrera said. "Bicycle helmets would be more front-end collisions, frontal injuries, so you want to get a bicycle helmet, versus someone who is on a scooter, those are more injuries on the back of your head, falling backwards." 

"Now, there's other types of helmets that are universal, that you could use them for both, so that's something to look at too, as well," he said.

He also added it's important to keep replacing helmets every few years to make sure they're still working properly.

"Most manufacturers also ask that you replace the helmet every five years, because usually the material which it's made by, the helmet that's made decomposes and it loses its integrity, so it tends to be not as durable, so you don't want to use this for a longer period of time," he said.

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