The push for more kids to wear helmets when on wheels

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — According to a new study commissioned for Safe Kids Worldwide, a children’s safety advocacy organization, a large percentage of parents — 40 percent — admit their children don’t always wear helmets while playing outside. A group of Rhode Island health professionals is trying to change that.

“We recommend that kids are always wearing helmets” whether they’re riding scooters, skateboards, bicycles or rollerblading, said Catherine Nwachukwu, an injury prevention specialist with Lifespan’s 4-Safety program.

The Safe Kids Worldwide report, “Ready for the Ride,” was released earlier this month. It also says 50 wheeled-sport related injuries come into emergency departments around the country every hour. Serious head injuries and fractures top the list.

In Rhode Island, emergency room physicians see about 270 wheeled-sport injuries each year, said Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “Those wheeled-sport injuries account for about 5 percent of all the injuries seen here at the Lifespan hospitals,” Dr. Zonfrillo said.

Among the actions parents can take to help their kids avoid injuries include getting them helmets to wear — and making sure they fit properly. Nwachukwu recommended the “eyes, ears and mouth” check: “The helmet should be no more than two fingers above the head, the strap should make a V at the ear, and when the child opens their mouth, the helmet should be snug against their mouth.”

Leading by example — parents wearing a helmet and protective gear themselves in outdoor activities — is also key, as well as watching where their children ride.

Photo from Safe Kids Worldwide