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Protect Your Child’s Noggin

Sylvia Scholl is the director of the WakeMed Trauma Program.

Almost every day I see children riding their bikes in the park or in my neighborhood wearing their helmets while being closely supervised by their parents.  But more often than not, these children have their helmets sitting too far back on their heads with straps that are too loose or helmets that are not the right size.

The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet. Helmets could prevent an estimated 75 percent of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year.  Make sure your child’s helmet fits correctly.

A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too  tightly. Safe Kids recommends the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test:

  • EYES: Position the helmet on your head.  Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
  • EARS:  Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled.  The strap should be snug but comfortable.
  • MOUTH:  Open your mouth as wide as you can.  Do you feel the helmet hug your head?  If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.