In the last few months I’ve been involved in the care of three children with severe head injuries. Two were skateboarding and one was riding a bike at the time of the injury. All of their lives are forever changed. None was wearing a helmet.
In all of these cases, and others that I’ve seen over the years, a helmet would have almost certainly minimized the severity of the injury sustained. There are already laws in place requiring helmet use in many states, including California. But, they are often not enforced. Kids should be wearing helmets when they roller blade, when they head to the skate park, when they go for a bike ride with friends. Today, my message is simple. We need to figure out how to make helmets cool.
How can we achieve this?
Start early. Children should be wearing helmets while riding on a parent’s bike, in a bike trailer, and when riding a tricycle. Make it the norm.
We must wear our helmets too. Studies have shown that kids whose parents wear helmets are much more likely to wear their own.
Talk to your teens. Many kids have helmets but choose not to wear them in certain situations. This seems to be particularly true when a child’s peers do not wear helmets. Ask your teen directly whether they actually wear their helmet. If they don’t, ask why. Discuss your concerns about injuries.
Think outside the box. I would love to hear about initiatives at schools, college campuses, or cities that are working to increase helmet usage in their community.
Helmet use is not a panacea for biking and skateboarding safety. Dedicated bike lanes and skate parks, and paying attention to the rules of the road also are important mitigators of injury. But, helmets are one of the best ways to minimize brain injury. We need a culture shift. We need helmets to be cool.
Click here for more information on selecting and properly fitting a helmet.
Have you talked to your kids about helmet use? How did you make it the norm in your family? Anyone working on novel safety initiatives with ideas to share?