Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

Bike Helmet Use Could Prevent 45,000 Head Injuries to Kids

Safe Kids Kansas offers bike safety tips to celebrate May's National Bike Month

Topeka, Kan. — Spring has arrived and families are gearing up to enjoy the outdoors on their bikes. While inflating the tires and checking the brakes are important – a helmet is essential. Safe Kids Kansas urges parents, caregivers, and children to use their helmet each time they ride their bike – no matter how long or short the distance traveled.

Each year, approximately 135 children die from bicycle-related injuries and more than 267,000 nonfatal bicycle injuries occur in the U.S. In Kansas, from 2000-2008 there were 396 unintentional bicycle related hospital discharges among children ages 14 and under. In 43 percent of these hospital discharges, the child had a traumatic brain injury. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent; however, only 15 to 25 percent of children 14 and under usually wear a bicycle helmet. Helmets are also cost effective.  According to a study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, on average, a $12 bicycle helmet for ages 3-14 years generates $580 in benefits to society.

“A bike helmet is essential safety gear,” says Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “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.” 

Sometimes children mistakenly believe that they don’t need to wear helmets when they’re riding near home. Unfortunately, about 53 percent of vehicle-related bike deaths to children happen on minor roads and residential streets. “Teach kids to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road. Kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules,” says Sage.

A helmet should also be labeled to indicate that it meets the standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “As long as it’s certified, let kids pick out their helmets” Sage says. “If they think a helmet looks cool, they’ll be more likely to wear it when you’re not around.”

Safe Kids Kansas also reminds parents and caregivers to:

The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet. For more information about bicycle safety, call 785-296-0351 or visit www.safekids.org. National Bike Month has been coordinated annually since 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists; for more information, visit www.bikeleague.org

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of over 70 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters cover Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Butler, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Geary, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Kiowa, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Mitchell, Montgomery, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Smith, Sumner, and Wilson counties, as well as the city of Emporia and the Metro Kansas City Area (Wyandotte county and several Missouri counties.) Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org and on Facebook.