May 10, 2011
- So Much to Do...So Little Time!
- Helmet Safety
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With the warm weather making more frequent appearances, reminding us that summer is just around the corner; my neighborhood seems to be coming to life. Usually watching all the kids outside playing evokes a sweet appreciation of the simple things in life. But lately I am disturbed. I see so many children riding through my neighborhood, on bikes, skateboards and roller blades, without helmets. It literally makes me cringe. One of my daughter's friends explained that "she wasn't going very far." It made me wonder just how far you have to go to justify taking the ten to fifteen seconds it takes to put on a bike helmet.
Recently my nephew and his friend were on their skateboards. The friend wasn't wearing a helmet. I'm sure you can see where this is going. The part that surprised me was not that he was so disoriented he couldn't find his way home. It was that on the way to the hospital, he went into respiratory failure and had to be taken by helicopter to Fairfax Hospital. I'm thrilled to report that this story has a very happy ending and everybody is doing well.
Brain injury can have cognitive, sensory, emotional or physical effects. They can be immediate or they can be long term.
According to SafeKids.org, "Head injury is the leading cause of wheeled sports-related death and the most important determinant of permanent disability after a crash. Without proper protection, a fall of as little as two feet can result in a skull fracture or other traumatic brain injury." They go on to report that head injuries:
- make up more than 60% of all bicycle related deaths
- account for more than two-thirds of bicycle related hospital admissions
- Make up about one-third of hospital emergency room visits for bicycling injuries
- can be reduced by about 85% when using a helmet
And what good is a helmet if not properly worn? Helmets should be worn flat on top of the head. Make sure the helmet covers the top of your child's forehead without tilting forward or backward (and be certain your child's line of vision is not interfered with). The helmet needs to be snug (unable to rock back and forth or side to side) and the strap should be fastened below the chin.
I hate being Debbie Downer. I know that the little guys want to get out there and have some fun. Right now! There is precious little time to stop and think about safety. After all, what are the chances? But all it takes is a little wobble, a crack in a sidewalk, a distraction. If they put that helmet on every time, it will soon become second nature. Those little beans are far too important to leave to chance.
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