I realize that for many parts of the country, spring is in full bloom, but here in the Northern regions, we are looking at a forecast full of snow this week. We've had a few glimpses of spring; just enough days to get out for a walk or let the kids play at the park or ride bikes...which brings me to my point; bike helmets.
Last year, we bought cheap helmets at Target and thought we had them fitted properly; maybe we did, but maybe we didn't. Fortunately, nothing happened and we didn't have to find out if we had followed the instructions for a safe fit. This year, we decided we just weren't comfortable with the way the helmets were fitting. We decided to visit our local pros...Erik's Bike Shop.
The Right Fit
Cassandra W., the Assistant Manager of the Bloomington location was quite helpful with finding the best fitting helmet. Cassandra also agreed to allow us to film her demonstrating how to get the proper fit. See the video here:
Cassandra said that a bike helmet that is not damaged should last 5 years, but children may outgrow their helmets in 3 or 4 years. While it's tempting to buy a used helmet at a garage sale or hand down an outgrown helmet to a sibling, it's simply not safe.
Hot and cold temperatures, normal wear and tear and impacts break down the plastics and padding over time. The same safety concern exists for car seats. It's important to follow the manufacturer's guidelines concerning terms and length of use for any gear, but particularly equipment that is by its very nature intended to protect you or your child.
Cost can be an issue when it comes to bike helmets. While you can get cheaper helmets from large discount stores, you won't have anyone who can guide you to the right helmet and ensure a proper fit. Going to a bike shop will give you added confidence that your child is protected while riding his or her bike. Cassandra assured me that people often bring in helmets bought elsewhere for tips on proper fit; and they are glad to help them.
There are a number of programs and organizations across the country that help provide reduced cost or free bike helmets to students and youth. You can find a program near you by searching "free or reduced cost bike helmets" along with your location.
Erik's also partners with area events and organizations to conduct safety clinics, including how to get a proper fit for a bike helmet. Cassandra said it's still early in the season yet, but you can check Erik's Event Calendar for safety clinics, etc. Additionally, June 5, 2011, is this year's date for the Blessing of the Bikes. Many churches have safety fairs in conjunction with the Blessing event.
Other resources that I have referred to in the past bike helmet posts regarding helmet laws and bike safety:
By all means, get out and soak up the warm sun and beautiful days ahead, but be sure to be safe out there. If you or your child is riding a bike, a scooter, a skateboard or other type of vehicle, wear a helmet that is properly fitted and not worn out; it could save your life.
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