Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Save yourself a trip to A & E.

My son absolutely loves his scooter. He actually prefers to scoot instead of using his bike. He is now more coordinated and strong enough to get up to a good speed. From day 1, we have always been keen to extol the virtues of head safety. Someone we know was knocked off his bicycle and luckily survived due to wearing a helmet. His neck was pinned for many months and he can now walk again. You don't have to look very hard to find similar stories like this. I would like to make clear my position from the start of this blog. I completely refute any notion or statistic that people who wear helmets get injured just as much as those who don't. So should you.

It always interested me how we get used to not wearing something which will protect a vital organ such as the brain. Not wearing a helmet starts with the HABIT of not wearing one. One day, you think it will take too much time to put one on. Or your friends will laugh at you because you have one and they don't. Then you convince yourself you will be careful or you're only going down the road. This also happens with your parent telling you, "it will be ok," on the day you are about to walk out the door and they can't be bothered to go back to put it on. Then as you develop more skill as a rider (or false confidence) and get older, you really believe that the likelihood of crashing is down to your own individual skill. It's people or cars crashing into you which you need to worry about. Being careful makes no difference at all to the likelihood of an extrinsic blow to the body.

We've seen the same attitude with wearing a seat belt, and more recently, wearing helmets while skiing. Liam Neeson's wife died after an innocuous fall on a nursury slope. She wasn't wearing a helmet. Michael Schumacher will most likely have died had he not been wearing his helmet. People are now rushing to wear helmets on the ski slopes as this attitude is changing. Yet I see many cyclists still not wearing helmets.

We recently bought our son a new helmet. We let him pick it out which he was excited about. The shop fitted the helmet and we were discussing how we see many kids not wearing helmets properly. Also, helmets have a lifespan. The materials and foam degrade and wear down. The recommendation for the life of a helmet is around 5 years. People think this is a marketing ploy to buy more helmets. It could partly be, but you only need to think about this. Fresh polystyrene has some give to it. Old polystyrene crumbles and snaps very easily. Which would you rather have supporting your brain?

Getting back to the topic. Isaac fell off his scooter a few days ago. He was scooting down a hill and lost control. When my wife got to him. His helmet had turned to the side and it was clear he had hit his head on the peak of the helmet (the sticky out bit). He was obviously shocked, but then he jumped up and carried on scooting. Had he not been wearing a helmet, it would have been a trip to A & E for sure. We were very lucky that he got a new helmet a few weeks prior to his fall, and was fitted properly. So here's a quick guide of how to, and how not to fit a child's helmet.

The helmet should be covering the eyebrows and sits as the brain is positioned on your spine.

If you follow the line of the edge of helmet (sticky out bit) straight down, it protects the forehead and nose if your child falls face first. 

It shouldn't be worn like a hat or to hold hair in place. 

The forehead and nose are completely exposed if the child falls face first. Also, the protection is too low at the back. this section of the head will never come in to contact with the ground. 

Hopefully this helps. Let's get kids active but let's try to build a good/life saving habit too.

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