Why wont you put your helmet on?This afternoon, one of my new neighbors was teaching her daughter to ride her bike. Her other daughter was on a bike as well. None of the three were wearing helmets.
According to research conducted by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, nearly half of severe injuries from bike accidents are traumatic brain injuries. And though young adults generally have a better outcome from TBI than older adults, younger children (such as my kindergarten-aged neighbor) are particularly vulnerable to brain injury (especially frontal injury) because many higher level cognitive functions haven't fully developed.
I wanted to tell the kids to put on a helmet. If their Mom wasn't riding with them (sans helmet), I may have suggested that they go and get them when I was out getting my mail. But I didn't, partially because I don't know them, and I feel weird about telling other people's kids what they should do. I understand that it can be difficult to make older children wear helmets, but when you are teaching your child to ride a bike, how hard can it be? Around here, helmets can be purchased at local fire stations for $10 each, and are given away free at local hospitals.
Perhaps my outrage is colored by the fact that I've always worn a helmet, and all of my cousins are good about wearing theirs. I actually even had a cousin tell me the other day, "I can't ride bikes today because I left my helmet at home." Of course, such easy compliance didn't come without a price; a close family friend died tragically two years ago from a backwards fall when rollerblading with her son. The greatest tragedy of all was that just before pulling out of the driveway to go to the park, her husband called out to make sure she had remembered her helmet. After the funeral, he found it their garage. And when my older cousins and I were growing up, there was always my fictitious Uncle John, who hurt his head falling off his bike and was never quite the same (or maybe that was from falling over the railing, or tripping because his shoes weren't tied, or from getting sick because he didn't wash his hands before dinner....)
Moral of the story? Wear a helmet! Next time I go to the Children's Hospital, I'm going to pick up flyers for the helmet drives and put them in my neighbors' mailboxes. I'm sure that these kids, with their shiny new bikes, probably already have them, but hopefully a little information on the benefits of wearing a helmet will give them (and their parents) a push in the right direction.