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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Celebrate Bike Safety Month

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cleveland, OH – University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland are working with school children throughout Greater Cleveland to raise awareness about bicycling and walking safety during National Bike Safety Month.  Rainbow provided bicycle safety lesson plans with a range of fun activities to schools throughout Greater Cleveland that are hosting Bike to School Day events. Schools across the country will be celebrating the health benefits of bicycling and walking to school while providing children and parents with the tools to make sure kids do so safely.

“Bike safety deserves attention because more children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to biking than any other sport,” said Mandy Thomas, Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Coordinator at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.  “Local school events during National Bike Safety Month are the perfect opportunity for students to have fun while learning how to remain injury free as they bike to and from school.”Each year, an average of 127 children ages 14 and under die from bicycle-related injuries and more than 254,000 nonfatal bicycle injuries occur. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent, but 15-20 percent of children actually wear them.

“A bike helmet is essential. Having events at local schools are great opportunities to encourage children to wear helmets,” says Thomas. “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. Helmets are a necessity, not an accessory.”

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland also reminds parents and caregivers to:

Make sure helmets fit and your kids know how to use them correctly, every time. 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. Use the Helmet Fit Test to make sure helmets are on just right.

EYES: Position the helmet on your head.  Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be two finger-widths above the eyebrows.

EARS:  Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “Y” 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.

Make sure the bike is the right size for the child. A child should be able to sit on the bike seat and touch both feet to the ground. As the child develops more confidence, the seat can be raised so that he or she can just touch the toes of both feet and only one foot to the ground.

Make sure the bike is in good repair. It is important to make sure reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.

Remember, bike helmets should only be worn for biking and for other wheeled sports like skateboarding and rollerblading. Kids should not wear bike helmets on the playground (where the straps can get caught on equipment and cause injury) or for activities that require specialized helmets (such as skiing or football).

Model and teach proper bicyclist behavior. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stop lights. Children should only ride or skate in good weather and during the day. They should stay on sidewalks or paths — not roads — until age 10.

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