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Bicycle Safety Tips For Kids

Aug 17, 2007
Keeping your kids safe is a big job for parents. For most it means safety from bad strangers and others preying on our children.

I take a well rounded approach to stranger danger and expand my classes to cover other "safe kids" topics, too. I reinforce the lessons Mom and Dad emphasize. One subject I also touch upon is bicycle safety. Bike safety includes wearing helmets, riding safely and under control, being seen and wearing shoes.
Why is bicycle safety so important?

Bike riding is a lot of fun, but accidents happen. Every year, about 176,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike accident injuries. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries.

Wearing a good bicycle safety helmet protects a rider's head. A head injury means a brain injury. Wearing a helmet doesn't mean riders can be reckless but it provides some protection in case of an accident. Bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. A good bike helmet should have a sticker that says it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Your bike helmet should fit you properly. You don't want it too small or too big. Never wear a hat under your bike helmet. If you're unsure if your helmet fits you well, ask someone at a bike store.

Make sure to wear a helmet the right way for full protection. It should be worn level and cover the forehead. The straps should always be fastened. If the straps are flying, it's likely to fall off especially when needed the most. Make sure the straps are adjusted so they're snug enough that the helemt can't pull or twist around.

Take care of a bike helmet and don't throw it around. That could damage the helmet and it won't protect you as well when you really need it. If you do fall down and put your helmet to the test, be sure to get a new one. They don't work as well after a major crash. Some fun things to do is personalize your helmet with some favorite stickers. Reflective stickers are a great choice because they look cool and make you more visible to people driving cars.

After wearing the right type of helmet, making sure you have the right bike for you is the second most importatn safety consideration. Riding a bike that is the right size also help keeps you safe. Here's how to size the bike just for you:

1. Stand straddling the top bar of your bike so that both feet are flat on the ground.
2. There should be 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 centimeters) of space between you and the top bar.
3. Make sure your seat, handlebars, and wheels fit tightly.
4. Check and oil your chain regularly.
5. Check your brakes to be sure they work well and aren't sticking.
6. Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and the right tire pressure.

Wearing bright clothes and putting reflectors on your bike also can help you stay safe. It helps other people on the road see you. And if they see you, that means they're less likely to run into you.

You'll also want to make sure that nothing will get caught in your bike chain, such as loose pant legs, backpack straps, or shoelaces. Wear the right shoes - sneakers - when you bike. Sandals, shoes with heels, and cleats won't help you grip the pedals. And never go riding barefoot! Riding gloves may help you grip the handlebars - and make you look like a professional!

But avoid wearing headphones because the music can distract you from noises around you, such as a car blowing its horn so you can get out of the way.
Keeping kids safe is my business.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is an expert in the field of child safety and stranger danger protection with 30 years experience in Keeping Kids Safe. For his latest book and information see Keeping Kids Safe.
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