Health Team

Proper helmet fit caps bike safety checklist

Posted May 17, 2016

Right now is a great time for cycling for both adults and children, but a lot of kids are missing a key piece of safety gear when they ride: a helmet.

May is Bicycle Safety Month, and it's a time when riders want to make sure their bike's tires are inflated properly, that the chain isn't too loose and that the brakes aren't worn down.

Those safety measures still won't protect a rider's head in a fall, though.

According to Cleveland Clinic pediatrician Dr. Michael Macknin, wearing a helmet can prevent 85 percent of head and brain injuries.

"It should fit snuggly on your head but obviously not be uncomfortable because no child will wear it," Macknin said. "You're supposed to have the straps fit right around your ears on the side in a 'V' there. And then have a firm fitting of the strap underneath your neck."

The helmet shouldn't move around too much on the rider's head, but it should feel snug. If the helmet moves a lot when, it's too loose and might mean that a smaller helmet is needed.

Helmets should be level and rest about an inch above the eyebrows, covering most of the forehead.

"A lot of kids will walk around and have it loose or they'll have it tilted way back or tilted way forward, and really when you put your helmet on, if you hit it in the front, it shouldn't move more than an inch," Macknin said. "If you hit it in the back, it shouldn't move more than an inch."

A lot of families might buy a helmet for their child off the shelf with no assistance. Some helmets are a one-size-fits-most type, and that's why they are less expensive. Experts in bike shops can help find a helmet that fits properly.

Helmets that have been around for several years can still be safe for use, too, depending on how it has been cared for.

If the helmet sits in the trunk of a car, it can get very hot and negatively affect its performance. If there are signs of wear and tear, even minor dents in the lining, replace it.


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