Bike Riding Safety
by Alison Rhodes
As a kid, I remember the incredible feeling of freedom whenever I jumped on my bike and rode over to my friend's house or down the street for a slice of pizza. I would spend hours on my bicycle every day. I'm sure that, back then, my mother never even considered having me wear a bike helmet - that was for a professional bike rider, not a child out playing. Unfortunately today, we know all too well the result of kids not wearing helmets when they're on a bicycle. Nationally, nearly 300,000 children age 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for bicycle-related injuries. Almost half of these are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When worn properly, bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 85 percent. In fact, bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has established safety standards for them. Your child's bike helmet should have a sticker on it from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) which indicates that it has met these safety guidelines. Also be sure that the helmet fits properly. It should be worn level, cover the forehead and be snug enough that it can't move around on your child's head.
In addition to wearing a proper helmet, here are a few more tips to ensure a safe ride:
Check the Ride: When your child is straddling the bicycle, his feet should touch the ground and there should be 1 - 3 inches of space between him and the bar. Always be sure to check the brakes and tire pressure. Also oil the chain regularly.
Wear the Right Gear: Dress your child in bright clothing so that they are easy to see. Check for loose clothing, shoelaces and backpack straps that could get caught in the wheel. Be sure that they wear sneakers rather the flip flops or cleats which won't grip the pedal.
Lookout for Obstacles: Teach your child to be aware of the area in which he is riding. Always be on the lookout for road obstacles such as wet leaves, sand, gravel, storm grates, curbs and puddles. When riding at night, be sure they are riding in a well lit area.
Understand the Rules of the Road: If they will be riding in the street, be sure your children understand basic road rules:
- Learn and use appropriate hand signals
- Stop and check for traffic both ways before leaving a driveway or entering an intersection
- Never ride against traffic
- Use bike lanes or designated bike routes whenever possible
- Ride single file when riding in the road
- Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as a car would do
- Don't ride too close to parked cars - someone can open their car door suddenly
Keeping these safety measures in mind will help to reduce the amount of traumatic bike injuries. It's also encouraging to keep in mind that, in the past several years, there has been tremendous progress in the use of a baby's cord blood stem cells in inducing healing with nerve and brain cells. Banking your baby's cord blood is insurance for traumatic injuries that can happen to your child in the future. To learn more about this, visit www.cordblood.com.