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Cruising to School on Two Wheels? Remember Your Helmet

Bike to School Day events are being held at nearly a dozen Iowa schools. (Pixabay)
Bike to School Day events are being held at nearly a dozen Iowa schools. (Pixabay)
May 10, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa - Kids from nearly a dozen Iowa schools will be cruising to school on two wheels today for National Bike to School Day. But before they rush out the door, safety advocates are reminding parents to make sure their children are wearing a helmet.

Dr. Marcee White, medical adviser for Safe Kids Worldwide, said preventable injury is the number one killer of children, and many are hurt on bicycles, skateboards and scooters. Her group surveyed parents about why kids aren't wearing helmets that can protect against serious head injuries and concussions.

"Forty-seven percent of parents think that the area where they are biking or scootering or skateboarding or skating is safe," she said, "or they view their child as experienced and don't think helmets are necessary."

As for the kids, they said they don't wear helmets because their friends don't, or that the helmet doesn't fit correctly.

Harding Elementary in Mason City and Willowbrook Elementary in Altoona are among the Iowa schools holding Bike to School Day events.

Nationwide, White said, 50 children are rushed to the emergency room every hour because of preventable injury. Head injuries can be very serious and sometimes fatal, she said, but kids also can end up with broken bones and nasty cuts and bruises as well, so she encouraged parents to not only make youngsters wear a helmet, but to learn the rules of the road.

"They're going down a hill, they don't know how fast they're going," she said. "They're not realizing that a car is in the way or something is in the way and turn very quickly and then, before you know it, no matter how experienced they are, they're falling and hitting the pavement."

Between 2005 and 2015, White said, the number of emergency-room visits for bike- and skateboard-related injuries declined, but kids who were rushed to the hospital because of an accident on a scooter increased by about 40 percent. She said it's disturbing that, of all these wheeled activities, parents are least likely to make children wear a helmet while riding a scooter.

More information is online at safekids.org and walkbiketoschool.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA