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Reminder from County: Bike Helmets are Required for Kids

Montgomery County is reminding residents that bike helmets are vital in preventing serious injuries, and county ordinance requires kids under 18 to wear helmets.

Montgomery County is reminding residents that bike helmets are vital in preventing serious injuries, and county ordinance requires kids under 18 to wear helmets. File|Patch
Montgomery County is reminding residents that bike helmets are vital in preventing serious injuries, and county ordinance requires kids under 18 to wear helmets. File|Patch
From a news release:

Montgomery County is reminding residents that bike helmets are vital in preventing serious injuries, and county ordinance requires kids under 18 to wear helmets. 

Helmets have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by 90 percent. Nationally, only 15 percent of children bicyclists used bicycle helmets. Here are some points to consider when fitting a bike helmet on a child:

The helmet should sit on the child's head so that the front rim is just above the eyebrows. Use the two-finger rule - leave about two fingers width between your eyebrows and the front of the helmet. If the helmet rests on the back of the head, the forehead, nose and chin will be exposed.

Before buckling the chin strap, have children shake their head from side to side. The helmet should generally stay put. If it moves excessively, it's too big and won't protect the head no matter how tight the chin strap is pulled. The straps should be joined just under each ear at the jawbone.

When the chin strap is buckled, children should be able to open their mouth and feel the helmet press firmly against the top of their head.

Buy a new helmet. Helmets that have suffered even a single fall or have been exposed to heat for a long time (i.e., kept in the trunk of a car) lose the cohesion that keeps the helmet intact during impact.

Don't forget to set an example by wearing a helmet yourself!

Bike Safety and Bike Helmets

Montgomery County requires anyone under age 18 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding or being carried on a bicycle, including a bicycle with training wheels, on a public street, right-of-way, sidewalk or bicycle path in the county.

Children are 14 times more likely to survive a bike crash if they wear a helmet. Each year in the United States, about 250 children die in bicycle-related accidents, and about half a million are injured in bicycling accidents. Although it's estimated that 75 percent of the serious injuries could have been avoided if a helmet was worn, only about 20 percent of children in the United States wear a helmet.

Get the Helmet to Fit Right

Step 1: Make sure the helmet fits firmly.

Helmets are sold with foam pads that differ in thickness to make the helmet fit firmly. Use the foam pads by attaching them to the inside of the helmet until the helmet fits firmly on your child's head. The helmet should not move around when shaken.

Step 2: Make sure the helmet sits level on the child's head.

This means the helmet should cover the top of the forehead, just above the eyebrows. Wearing the helmet too far back is a common mistake. You should be able to place just two fingers between the eyebrows and the front of the helmet. Take off anything that could change the way a helmet fits (baseball caps, big hair clips, headphones, etc.).

Step 3: Position the straps correctly.

All straps should be snug but still comfortable. Fix the side straps so that they fit around your child's ear in a V-shape. Adjust the buckles or slides on the side strap so that they are right under theear. Tighten the chin strap until you can fit just one finger between the strap and your child's chin. 

Check the fit of the helmet every time. Use the 2-V-1 finger test. Teach your child to do this test each time he gets ready to ride:

  • Two fingers above the eyebrows
  • V-Shape under each ear
  • One finger under the chin strap
  • Make sure that the helmet has a label to say that it meets safety standards, such as CSA, CPSC, ASTM, or Snell.

After taking a serious hit, helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock. They're designed so that the inner foam structure is altered by a very hard blow. 

If your child ever has a significant fall or hits any surface hard with the helmet, immediately replace the helmet. It is estimated that 75 percent of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet. Wearing one should never be optional for your child.


MD June 10, 2014 at 02:48 PM
Another bad law....
jag June 10, 2014 at 05:14 PM
...joking?
dctenants June 11, 2014 at 01:59 PM
All bike riders should be required to wear a helmet.
Kayla garcia June 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Helmets are absolutely key for riding. However, also key is having a safe cycling partner. Madison Hartung was to be protection from predators and a companion cyclist. However, a recreation ride turned into disaster when Madison's companion followed her across a busy highway against the light. The companion should have refused to follow on that route. The companion should have never trusted Madison to cross at a safe time. As a result, the companion was severely injured, disabled, and disfigured. Even worse, Madison was traumatized. Madison was further affected by the other family's half dozen requests for Madison to acknowledge and encourage the physically injured cyclist. It is not Madison's problem that her companion trusted and followed her.

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