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Bike safety encouraged

APRIL B. DILLON
Extension Agent
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When warm weather begins, so do outdoor activities for youth and families.
Bike riding is a popular sport for many during the summer, but how many bike riders are prepared for safety on their ride?
While an excellent source of exercise, bicycles are also associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile.
In 2001, 134 children under the age of 15 died in bicycle-related crashes. In 2002, nearly 288,900 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.
Short rides close to home can be the most dangerous. More than 60 percent of childhood bicycle related fatalities occur on small neighborhood roads. The typical bike crash occurs within a mile of home.
How can you prevent your child from becoming a bicycle injury statistic? First, make sure your child always wears a helmet. Research shows that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPCS) suggests these tips for selecting and wearing bike helmets:
· The helmet should fit snugly so that it does not slide from side to side or from front to back.
· Wear a bike helmet every time and everywhere you ride a bike.
· The bike helmet should be worn low and level on your head, and the chinstrap should be snapped and fit securely.
· All bike helmets now made in or imported to the United States must meet the safety standard set by the CPSC. Look for the label that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
· If you hit your head in a bike crash, you should throw away the helmet worn during the crash and purchase a new one. While the outer shell of the helmet may still be intact, the inside cushion may be damaged and will not provide enough protection to prevent future head injuries.
As part of National Safe Kids Week, the Lincoln County Safe Kids Chapter will sponsor a Safe Kids event from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 2 at the Lincoln Family YMCA.
The event will include bicycle inspections and child safety seat inspections.
While supplies last, each child bringing a bicycle for a safety inspection will receive a free helmet.
Helmets will only be distributed to children who bring a bicycle for inspection. For more information regarding this event, please contact Belinda Branson at (704) 736-8624.

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