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Bicycle Helmet Use

Why should my child wear a bicycle helmet?

Bicycle accidents can cause injuries to the face, brain, and skull. The best way to protect your child from an injury is for him to wear a bicycle helmet. If he does get injured, a helmet may decrease his risk of a permanent or life-threatening injury. Many states have laws that require bicycle helmet use.

When should my child wear a bicycle helmet?

Make sure your child always wears a helmet, even when he goes on short bicycle rides. Your child should start to wear a helmet when he learns how to ride a bicycle. He should also wear a helmet if he rides in a passenger seat on an adult bicycle.

How do I choose a safe bicycle helmet for my child?

Check inside the helmet for a sticker or label stating that the helmet meets safety standards. The helmet should be approved by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). It may also be approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation.

How can I make sure my child's bicycle helmet fits properly?

Your child's bicycle helmet should fit well. A helmet that does not fit well may not protect your child's head. A poor-fitting helmet may even increase the risk for a head injury. Most helmets come with extra foam or removable pads. Add or take out the foam or pads to help the helmet fit your child's head better.

  • Eyes, ears, and mouth test:

    • Eyes: Place the bicycle helmet on your child's head. It should be centered on top of his head and cover the top of his forehead. The helmet should be at the same level at the front and back of his head. The space between the front of the helmet and your child's eyebrows should equal the width of 1 to 2 fingers. Your child should be able to see the rim of his helmet when he looks up.

    • Ears: Fix the straps so they form a V shape under and in front of his ears. One strap should be in front of your child's ear and the other strap should be behind his ear.

    • Mouth: Fasten the helmet strap under his chin. Ask your child to open his mouth as wide as he can. He should feel the helmet pull down on his head when he does this. Pull the strap until it fits tightly but stays comfortable against your child's chin.

  • Once the helmet is firmly strapped, ask your child to shake his head around. The bicycle helmet should not move. Tighten the strap if the helmet moves with head movement. You may also adjust the pads to make the helmet fit better.

How can I get my child to wear a bicycle helmet?

  • Be a role model for your child: Always wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle. Your child is more likely to wear a bicycle helmet when he sees you doing the same.

  • Learn more about bicycle helmet use: Ask about programs in your neighborhood or your child's school that promote bicycle helmet use. Take part in these programs to learn more about proper bicycle helmet use.

  • Let your child choose his helmet: Your child may be more likely to wear a helmet if he chooses one that he likes.

  • Set a family rule about helmet use: Set a clear and simple rule about the need to always wear a helmet when he rides a bicycle.

Where can I get more information?

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington , DC 20590
    Phone: 1- 888 - 327-4236
    Web Address:

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child has small cuts or bruises after a bicycle accident.

  • You have any questions or concerns about bicycle helmet use and safety.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has pain after a bicycle accident.

  • Your child has been in a bicycle accident and is acting differently than usual.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about bicycle helmets. You can then discuss choices with your child's caregiver. Work with him to decide what choices are best for your child.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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