Helmet Safety Introduction

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					                                  Helmet Safety

 Helmet Safety on Reservations and                          should react.
                                                            Many American
From cruising the paved streets to going off-               Indian children
road, biking is fun, easy to do and is a great              grow up thinking
form of exercise, but certain precautions                   that wearing a
need to be taken when going out on the                      helmet is not
reservation roads and trails.                               “cool” or it is
                                                            restricting and takes away from the freedom
        American Indians/Alaskan Natives                   of the ride. While parents and community
         are three times more likely to suffer              members make the best role models for
         injury or death than any other ethnic              children, living under high stress conditions
         group.¹                                            such as impoverished and violent
                                                            communities can put enforcing helmet use
Helmet use is alarming low on tribal lands                  with their children on the low end of the
and in rural areas in general. This is in large             priority list. While enforcement helps, it is
part due to the fact that resources in rural                ultimately up to the child to decide to wear
communities are limited and therefore local                 the helmet each time they ride.
law enforcement often does not have the
time or staff to make regular patrols and                      Where and When Bicycle Death
enforce the helmet laws of their state or
                                                                    and Injuries Occur
                                                            Similar to motor vehicle crashes, the
            Children and Bikes                              average bicycle crash occurs most often
                                                            within one mile of the home. Busy streets,
For kids a bicycle is their first vehicle and               cycling at night and lack of authoritative
one of the first ways to explore the outside                patrol (i.e. a community watch program or
world independently. Parents and                            tribal/local police) creates a number of
guardians of children should make sure that                 obstacles for cyclists and motorists alike.
their child has the appropriate bike and fitted
helmet for their age. In addition children                  While many states have adopted laws to
should also learn basic rules of the road to                enforce helmet use this is not always enough
learn to scan their environment for hazards                 to convince people that helmet use is
to prevent serious injury.Although children                 important. Educating the community about
learn incredibly fast, young children do not                how helmet use can prevent or significantly
see traffic in the same way as adults and do                reduce the chance of brain injury can be a
not yet have a fully developed sensory                      powerful intervention tool.
perception. This makes it hard for children
to perceive how fast a vehicle is
approaching and how fast they

¹Centers for Disease Control. Injuries Among Native Americans: Fact Sheet . Accessed 7/1/2008
                                  Helmet Safety

            Why Helmets Work                                 stopping, looking both ways, using the
                                                             universal hand signals to indicate turns and
With the proper fit, safety approved helmets                 riding in narrow spaces. This is also a great
for bike, motorcycle, ATV or multi-sport                     event to distribute helmets since most states
use can reduce head injuries by as much as                   now require that children under 18 must be
85%.² Bike crashes, especially those                         wearing a helmet if on a bike.
resulting in head injuries, threaten the safety
and future development of children.                          Learning the functions of the brain can also
                                                             be a fun and fascinating topic of discussion
Children with even a mild head injury may                    for a young audience. Colorful handouts,
have difficulty with memorization and                        gelatin brain molds and some brain teasers
comprehension for the rest of their life.                    are a great way to engage kids in a
Symptoms of behavior problems can                            classroom like setting.
develop as much as one year after the injury
occurred. Mild head injury can also create                              How to Use this Tool
difficulty learning verbal, abstraction, and
reasoning skills depending on what area of                   In this section of the tool kit you will find a
the brain was injured.                                       presentation to educate your community.
                                                             Brochures, Fact Sheets and Buying guides to
       What You Can Do in Your                               hand out at community events and
             Community                                       observation forms to start tracking the
                                                             helmet use rate in your area.
Getting the word out about the importance
of bike and helmet safety is fun and easy to                 You can run copies of the materials included
do. One way to get the youth involved is to                  or download the file from the CD and
have bike workshops, showing kids how to                     change the information to fit your local
properly check the brakes and general                        community. Take advantage of the free
mechanics of their bike. When you do not                     resources available to you.
have first hand knowledge, ask the experts!
Visit your local bike shops and ask if they                  Be sure to check out the bike safety resource
would be interested in providing                             list to find where to get low cost helmets,
demonstrations to kids on proper bike                        videos, and some other additional materials
maintenance.                                                 you may want to purchase if you decide to
                                                             start a program.
Another fun activity for youth is the bike
rodeo. Bike rodeos are a great way to get
kids on their bikes, have fun and learn some
rules of the road. Different obstacle courses
are set up and monitored while children are
instructed on how to navigate the course
using the proper techniques including

²Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Helmet Related Statistics from Many Sources . Accessed 2/7/2008

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