Helmets reduce injuries by 85%

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 52, No. 5, June 2010, Page 269 News

Wheeled activities on bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates, or scooters are good ways to get outside and exercise. But part of keeping kids active is keeping them safe. While safety around traffic is a major concern, most injuries on wheels are caused by falls.

Falls generally occur when a child loses control of his or her equipment or runs into objects like a curb, fence, another rider, or even a bump on the sidewalk. The most serious problem is a head injury—particularly if those children are not wearing helmets. 

According to Transport Canada, in 2007 over 1000 children under age 15 were injured while riding their bikes. More than 60% of the children injured were between the ages of 11 and 14. Almost half of the children were injured in the summer (June, July, or August). 

Research shows that a helmet can reduce the chance of head injury by 85%. Traumatic brain injuries account for 8% of emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries. Children riding bicycles are more likely to be admitted to hospital with an injury, but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, traumatic brain injuries account for 4% of emergency room visits for skateboarding and in-line skating-related injuries, and 6% of emergency room visits from riding a scooter for children under 19. 

Despite the prevalence of head injuries in Canada, a new Leger Marketing/Safe Kids Canada sur­vey on helmet safety demonstrates that more than a third of Canadian parents with children age 18 and under (35%) are not concerned about their child having a bicycle-related injury. Parents need to know that even seemingly minor incidents may cause permanent brain damage.

For every dollar spent on a helmet, $30 can be saved in health care costs, an important consideration for the development and improvement of helmet legislation across Canada. 

The majority of Canadians (76%) feel helmet legislation will not affect the amount of time their children spend on wheels. Almost two-thirds of Canadian parents (63%) consider helmet legislation as important as seatbelt legislation.

5 tips to give parents to protect their child’s head:

1.  Ensure your children wear a helmet every time they ride.

2.  Get the right kind of helmet. Choose a bicycle helmet for cy­cling, in-line skating and scootering. 
Skateboarders need a special skateboarding helmet that covers more of the back of their head. 

3.  Ensure the helmet fits your child. The helmet should rest two finger widths above the eyebrow. The side and chin straps should be snug. 

4.  People of all ages should wear a helmet when they ride. Remember: You are your child’s best role model.

5.  Children under 10 should not ride on the road. They do not have the physical and thinking skills to handle themselves safely in traffic. Children over 10 need to practise before they can ride on the road. 

A parent fact sheet is available at www.safekidscanada.ca —click on the “Safe Kids Week” link.

. Helmets reduce injuries by 85%. BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 5, June, 2010, Page(s) 269 - News.

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