Kids and Bicycle Safety: Picking the Right Helmet

Photo of a bicycle accidentThe best protection your child can have while riding is a helmet. But how do you select the right helmet for your child? It’s not enough to just pick the one that has the Batman design your child likes best. Safety is the most important part of picking the right helmet.

Young people are especially prone to bicycle injuries. Children ages five and older as well as young adults have the highest rates of bicycle injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They account for almost 60 percent of bicycle injuries requiring U.S. emergency room visits. A helmet can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by up to 85 percent.

When selecting a helmet, look for a Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker inside the helmet. Never buy a helmet for your child to grow into. It should fit based on the current size of the child’s head.

When fitting the selected helmet, it should have a snug but comfortable fit. Make sure the straps are even that form a Y that comes together right at the bottom of the ear lobe. If you try to shift the helmet around, it should stay snugly in place. Have your child open his or her mouth wide; the helmet should pull down on his or her head. The helmet should be level with your child’s head, not tilted back, and rest low on the forehead. The bottom edge should be one or two finger-widths from the child’s eyebrows. Once fitted properly, if your child can see and hear properly, you are good to go.

Fortunately, studies show that helmets that cost $150 do the job about the same as helmets that cost $20, so you don’t have to break the bank to ensure your child’s safety.