ST. JOHN’S, June 13 – Every year, more than 500 Canadian children are hospitalized for head injuries from bicycle crashes. Nearly 30 children die each year from these injuries. Bicycle injuries to children under 14 not only result in pain and suffering, but also cost Atlantic Canadians more than $21 million each year.
Through its “Be Smart. Be Safe” community outreach program, Canada’s home, car, and business insurers urge parents to make sure their children wear an approved helmet any time they are participating in wheeled activities such as cycling, skateboarding, in-line skating, or riding a scooter. But they also take their message one step further.
“We want parents to know that helmets are not just for kids,” says Don Forgeron, Vice President, Atlantic Region, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Some parents properly outfit their children with helmets but don’t wear one themselves. In addition to increasing their risk of head injuries, they’re not setting a good example,” he adds.
Injury prevention experts agree that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injuries by 85%. They also caution people never to purchase a used helmet.
“If you see a used bicycle helmet in a garage sale, don’t even think about buying it — it may have been damaged,” says Jim Russell, Executive Director of ThinkFirst, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing brain and spinal-cord injuries. “Bike helmets are designed for single impact. If you hit your helmet once, you should replace it,” he adds.
ThinkFirst and Canada’s home, car and business insurers offer the following tips for buying and wearing helmets:
Look for a helmet with an ASTM, SNELL, or CSA sticker inside.
Don’t decorate helmets with paint or stickers.
Make sure the pads inside touch the head at the front, back, sides, and top.
Never wear a hat under your helmet.
Wear your helmet the right way: Make sure you can fit two fingers between the helmet and your eyebrows, and one finger under the chin strap. The side straps should form a tight V under each ear lobe.
Remove your child’s helmet before he or she plays on playground equipment. It could get caught on the equipment and may strangle the child.
Wearing a helmet is an easy way to help prevent head injuries and enjoy a carefree and safe summer.
“Be Smart. Be Safe” is a national injury prevention campaign from Canada’s home, car, and business insurers. The campaign travels to communities across the country to demonstrate to Canadians what they can do to prevent injuries in the home, on the road, and at play. For more information about “Be Smart. Be Safe,” visit the Web site at www.besmartbesafe.ca.