Helmet Safety Reminders for Parents and Kids

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LIVINGSTON—According to the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey, approximately 200,000 Americans suffer brain injuries each year as the result of riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard and in-line/roller skates.

The Emergency Department at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, which treats more than 84,000 adult and pediatric patients each year, reminds all parents and children that in New Jersey, the law requires that anyone under the age of 17 must wear a helmet while bicycling, skateboarding or in-line/roller skating.

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“Injuries to a child’s brain do not heal like a broken bone, cut or scrape,” says Chris Freer, D.O., chairman of Emergency Medicine at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. “Brain injuries, if survived, can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. The reality is the most common cause of death among children riding bicycles is head injury.”

Dr. Freer says brain injuries can occur even from a simple fall from a bike, skateboard, scooter or skates. “Most people think of brain injuries occurring from a significant impact such as with a motor vehicle, and while that is true, serious injuries can occur in a park, sidewalk or even a driveway. That is why is imperative that children wear helmets at all times.”

According to New Jersey law, failure to wear a helmet can result in a $25 fine for the first offense and up to $100 for subsequent offenses. Dr. Freer says, “A brain injury can affect the way your child thinks, acts, speaks, walks and lives for the rest of his or her life. If the professional skateboarders and bicyclists can wear a helmet and still be ‘cool’, so should your child.”

The Emergency Department at Saint Barnabas Medical Center reminds everyone of the following safety tips:

  • When purchasing a helmet, look for a sticker indicating it’s been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • A helmet should fit directly over the forehead, two fingers above the eyebrows.
  • The chin straps should fit snug and form a “V” on either side of the ears. Only two fingers should fit under the strap.
  • Wear light colored clothing that makes riders visible to drivers.
  • In addition to a helmet, an inexperienced bike rider should also wear knee and elbow pads.
  • Under New Jersey law, all bicycles must be equipped with a horn or bell, as well as rear and pedal reflectors.
  • Obey all traffic rules, laws, signs and signals. Ride with traffic.
  • According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, more than 70% of bicycle crashes occur at driveways or intersections. Always look left, right and left again before proceeding into intersection.
  • Keep bikes, scooters, skateboards and skates in proper working order with tires properly inflated, seats adjusted and brakes in good working condition.

Dr. Freer says, “Talk to your children about the importance of wearing a helmet and the risks of brain injury and their consequences. An accident can happen in a split second, so no matter where your child is, if they are riding, they need a helmet.”


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