Bicycle Helmet Safety from Calgary EMS

p48-BikeSenseEvery year Calgary paramedics respond to traumatic emergencies where helmets have prevented a serious injury or saved a life.

Bicycle crashes are the leading cause of brain injury in school aged children. The majority of bicycle injuries do not involve motor vehicles. Most often injuries occur when a cyclist suffers a fall, strikes a stationary object like a pole, or collides with a pedestrian or another cyclist. Unfortunately there are still a significant number of people that do not wear helmets, however it is Alberta law that anyone under 18 years of age must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. It is also highly advisable to wear a CSA approved helmet when using a skateboard, in-line skates, or a scooter.

Getting Started
• Allow children to assist in choosing their own helmet– cyclists who choose their own helmet are more likely to wear them.
• Make a habit of wearing helmets early, even if young children are learning on a tricycle.
• One simple rule: no helmet, no cycling. Make the rule and stick to it consistently.
• Lead by example– always wear your own helmet!
• A helmet that has been in a crash must be replaced, even if it appears undamaged.
• Replace your helmet every five years even if it hasn’t been in a crash. UV rays will weaken the helmet over time.

Getting the Right Fit
• The helmet should rest level on the head, never tilted high or low over the forehead.
• The helmet should feel snug, but not too tight. It should not fall off when you shake your head from side to side while the straps are unfastened.
• Adjust the chin straps to form a “Y” below and slightly forward from the ears.
• Only one finger should be able to fit under the chin strap when it is fastened.
• Use the sizing pads included with the helmet to improve the comfort and fit.

Getting Informed
• A brain injury is not like a broken bone – it may never fully heal.
• A brain injury can lead to permanent disability or death.
• The cost of a helmet is easily justified. Research demonstrates wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by 85%.
• Statistics show that all cyclist fatalities in children under the age of 15 were unhelmeted.
• Remember: all cyclists’ crash eventually!
• Calgary paramedics are doing their part– every year the Calgary Paramedics Charity Society gives away 500 bicycle helmets to less fortunate children.