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MomTalk.com November 19, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Use Your Head, Wear Your Helmet

He was a healthy teenager in for a school physical. It was time to update his diphtheria tetanus vaccination.

"Like I'm really going to get diphtheria if I don't get this shot," he scoffed. "What can you do to really help me?"

He had a point. His chance of contracting diphtheria was slim; even without his own vaccination, he'd be protected by the thousands of vaccinated people around him, a sort of "herd immunity."
So we talked.

Kristine Matson, M.D., Pediatric and Young Adult Medicine

He was a healthy teenager in for a school physical. It was time to update his diphtheria tetanus vaccination.
"Like I'm really going to get diphtheria if I don't get this shot," he scoffed. "What can you do to really help me?"
He had a point. His chance of contracting diphtheria was slim; even without his own vaccination, he'd be protected by the thousands of vaccinated people around him, a sort of "herd immunity."
So we talked.
"Do you drive a car?"
"Not yet."
"Do you drink alcohol?"
"Nope."
"Do you wear a seatbelt?" Yes. "Ride a bike?"
"Yes."
"With a helmet?"
"Well … no."
Ah ha! Now this trumps diphtheria.

About 275 kids die each year in bike accidents-180 of them from traumatic head injuries. Bike helmets could prevent about 80% of those brain injuries. The most common victim of bike-related deaths? Fourteen-year-old boys. Non-helmeted riders are nearly fourteen times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. If all kids 4 to 15 wore helmets we'd prevent 135 to 155 deaths each year-not to mention the 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries, and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries.

So, how do you get your kids to wear helmets? Wear one yourself.

Being a role model is good for parents' own safety, too; after all, adults aren't immune to injury. In all, about 800 bike riders die each year, 500 of them from head injuries, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. They estimate direct costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are $81 million yearly and indirect costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are $2.3 billion each year. Kids should start wearing helmets early, even when they are on tricycles or training wheels to help establish the life-long helmet-wearing habit.

Bike helmets made after 1999 must meet standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This designation will be clearly marked on the helmet. A helmet must fit properly to be effective. It should cover the forehead and fit snugly, with a chin strap allowing one or two fingers to fit under the strap. Avoid damaging a helmet by treating it gently and replace any helmet that has been involved in an accident. Some experts recommend buying a bright or light colored helmet for best visibility.
You can find more information at these websites:
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute: www.bhsi.org.org/
www.health.state.mn.us/injury/pub/helmetletter.pdf
www.mnsafetycouncil.org/bicyle/index.htm

Of course, helmets are also crucial for other activities-rollerblading, skateboarding, horseback riding. A good CPSC-approved helmet works well for rollerblading and roller skating. Skateboarding is best done with a tougher multisport helmet. Horseback riders need an equestrian helmet, which is designed to address hazards specific to that sport. Any motorized sport requires a specially designed helmet for that sport.

Did You Know…


  • Bicycle deaths are more common in the summer and fall
  • Accidents happen most often on Fridays
  • The most dangerous time of day: 6pm to 9pm
  • Eight times more men and boys are killed than women and girls
  • Children 14 and under are nearly four times more likely to be injured riding in non-daylight hours

Remember…
• Establish the helmet habit early
• Note to parents: wear a helmet yourself
• Talk to children about why you want them to protect their heads
• Reward kids for wearing helmets
• DON'T LET CHILDREN RIDE THEIR BIKES UNLESS THEY WEAR THEIR HELMETS



Categories: School-Age, Tweens, Teens, Children's Health, Health & Wellness,


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