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How To Choose The Right Bike Helmet For Your Child

Wearing a helmet while biking is not only incredibly important for your child's safety, but in many states, it's also the law. There are almost a half million bicycle-related injuries in the United States every year and wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet can help to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Bicycle helmets are not something parents should buy a bit big so their child "can grow into it" because an ill-fitting helmet won't provide the safety protection needed in the event of an accident or fall. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more children between the ages of 5 and 14 visit hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than any other sport.

If your child loves to ride their bike make sure they're properly protected by wearing the correct safety gear. When buying a bike helmet make sure there is a Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker inside the helmet ensuring that the bike has met the CPSC standard. The good news is when buying a bike helmet, you don't have to break the bank to get a quality product.

"There’s evidence that protection from an inexpensive helmet is as good for impact protection as an expensive helmet," Pediatrician Michael Macknin told the Cleveland Clinic. Here's what you also need to know to select the right bike helmet for your child.

Size

Buying a helmet in the correct size for your child is crucial to their safety. A helmet that is too big or too small won't provide the necessary protection in the event of a fall or accident. Many helmets come with a universal fit ring while some come with sizing pads. If using the fit ring make sure it's tight enough so the helmet doesn't fall off or fall forward when the child bends down and the fit is comfortable. Sizing pads can also be used if needed for a more secure fit and can be mixed and matched to ensure a proper fit and maximum comfort.

Positioning

The Universal Safety Store suggests that the helmet should lie flat on the crown of the child's head and cover the forehead, but not so far down that it obstructs their view.  There should be enough space to fit one or two of your fingers between your child's eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet. Your child should be able to see the top rim of their helmet when they look upward.

Side Straps and Buckles

Once you buckle the chin strap it's important to ensure that the strap is tight enough. Consumer Reports suggest having your open their mouth halfway with the helmet fastened. If the helmet presses down on the top of their head, the buckle is tight enough. Adults should be able to place one finger between the strap and the child's chin. The front and back straps on the helmet should look like a "Y" just below the front of the child's ear.

No Hand Me Downs

While it's tempting as parents to scoop up a hand me down helmet that an older sibling or friend is looking to pass on, it's important to ensure they are safe before giving them to your child. Like we mentioned above, it's important that any helmet your child uses has a Consumer Product Safety Commission sticker. Hand me down helmets may have cracks or damage that isn't visible to the naked eye that can compromise their safety protection. While it's tempting to use a helmet that has been passed along, buying a safety certified new helmet will provide the proper safety measures for your child.

When To Buy A New Helmet

According to the Children's Hospital of LA, there are a number of reasons that will dictate when it's time to buy a new helmet. If your child's helmet is ever involved in an accident or is even slightly damaged, it's time for a replacement. Children grow like weeds sometimes and as soon as your child outgrows their helmet it's time to get a new one that fits properly. If your child's helmet has been dropped on to a hard surface like concrete it could be damaged, and no longer able to provide the proper protection for your child. If that happens it's time to put that helmet away and get a new one.

You can also check the recall list on the CPSC website to ensure there are no recalls on your child's helmet. Your child might argue about wearing their helmet so you just need to remind them that a helmet that is fitted properly can reduce the risk of a head injury in the event of an accident by as much as 85% and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88%. Make sure your child has a safe and fun summer by helping them find the right bike helmet that works for them.

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