A head injury can mean brain injury. That's why it's so important to wear your bike helmet. Wearing one doesn't mean you can be reckless, but a helmet will provide some protection for your face, head, and brain in case you fall down.
A Helmet How-To
Bike helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. Your helmet should have a sticker that says it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If your helmet doesn't have a CPSC sticker, ask your mom or dad to get you one that does. Wear a bike helmet EVERY TIME YOU RIDE, even if you are going for a short ride.
Your bike helmet should fit you properly. You don't want it too small or too big. Never wear a hat under your bike helmet. If you're unsure if your helmet fits you well, ask someone at a bike store.
Once you have the right helmet, you need to wear it the right way so it will protect you. It should be worn level and cover your forehead. Don't tip it back so your forehead is showing. The straps should always be fastened. If the straps are flying, it's likely to fall off your head when you need it most. Make sure the straps are adjusted so they're snug enough that you can't pull or twist the helmet around on your head.
Take care of your bike helmet and don't throw it around. That could damage the helmet and it won't protect you as well when you really need it. If you do fall down and put your helmet to the test, be sure to get a new one. They don't work as well after a major crash.
Many bike helmets today are lightweight and come in cool colors. If you don't love yours as it is, personalize it with some of your favorite stickers. Reflective stickers are a great choice because they look cool and make you more visible to people driving cars.
Helmet On, Now What?
Riding a bike that is the right size for you also help keeps you safe.
When you are on your bicycle, stand straddling the top bar of your bike so that both feet are flat on the ground.
There should be 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 centimeters) of space between you and the top bar.
Here's a safety checklist your mom or dad can help you do:
Make sure your seat, handlebars, and wheels fit tightly.
Check and oil your chain regularly.
Check your brakes to be sure they work well and aren't sticking.
Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and the right amount of tire pressure.
Be Seen, Be Safe!
Wearing bright clothes and putting reflectors on your bike also can help you stay safe. It helps other people on the road see you. And if they see you, that means they're less likely to run into you. Daytime riding is the safest so try to avoid riding your bike at dusk and later.
You'll also want to make sure that nothing will get caught in your bike chain, such as loose pant legs, backpack straps, or shoelaces. Wear the right shoes — sneakers — when you bike. Sandals, flip-flops, shoes with heels, and cleats won't help you grip the pedals. And never go riding barefoot! Riding gloves may help you grip the handlebars — and make you look like a professional!
But avoid wearing headphones because the music can distract you from noises around you, such as a car blowing its horn so you can get out of the way.