by Sasndyh Katz, MD

Choose a Bicycle Helmet Carefully—and Wear it

Bicycle riding is a great form of exercise, but it’s important to do it safely. Helmets are a key part of bicycle safety. Buy a helmet that fits properly, and wear it every time you ride. The benefits of bicycle helmets for both adults and children are obvious: they can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%, and cut the risk of brain injury by up to 88%.

Your bicycle helmet should be snug, level and stable on your head. It should cover most of your forehead before you make any adjustments. If your forehead isn’t covered, try a bigger helmet.

After putting on the helmet, before you buckle the chin strap, shake your head to see if it shifts from side to side. If it does, you’ll need to tighten it with pads or the ring at the back and base of the helmet, or you will need a smaller helmet.

Here’s how to make sure it fits correctly:
• With the helmet level on your head, you should see
the very edge or rim of your helmet when you look up
past your eye brows. This is about two finger widths
above your eyebrow.
• The straps should meet and form a “V” right under each ear lobe. To check, form a “V” with two fingers around your ear.
• Once the straps are adjusted in a “V,” buckle them. The straps should be snug but not too tight. Adjust until you can put no more than two fingers between the strap and your chin.

Other bicycle helmet safety tips:
• When shopping for a helmet, look for a certification label from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
• Replace the helmet after a crash.
• Tell your children to remove their helmet before they play in the playground or climb on equipment or trees—the straps can get caught on poles or branches.

For more information about bicycle helmets and other bicycle safety issues, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles

New York Emergency Medicine Physician, Sasndyh Katz, MD is with Emergency Medicine Services at Nyack Hospital.