Editor’s note: This article first appeared in its original form on Huffington Post.
Chris Clark is one of the top professional stunt cyclists in the country. I recently watched him perform on consecutive weekends at Safe Kids Day events in Los Angeles and New York. Kids of all ages marveled as he fearlessly jumped over ramps, hopped from obstacle to obstacle on just his back tire and performed stunts that took our breath away.
And there was one more thing, too: He was wearing a helmet the entire time.
“Back in the day, helmets weren’t considered cool,” Chris told me after one show as dozens of kids waited for his autograph. “But now it’s totally different. The helmets are cool. The designs are cool. That whole dynamic is changing where if you’re on a bike, you have a helmet on. It’s just part of the outfit.”
As parents, we have an important role to play. We might not be super cool stunt bikers but our kids are watching us just as closely as they watch Chris Clark or any of the other extreme athletes who will be participating (and wearing helmets) in next month’s X-Games.
Many of us grew up riding without helmets so we don’t wear them today. That sends a powerful message to our kids that it’s OK to make exceptions, even though wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent a brain injury.
I recently received an e-mail from a mom in Andover, Minnesota who wrote that her son, Shae, hit the ground so hard during a bike accident that he cracked his helmet, broke his nose, and had some cuts and bruises.
“But he is alive today,” his mom writes, “because he was wearing a bike helmet.”
So as the weather gets nicer this month, we want to encourage all families to hop on your bikes, explore and have fun. Even take a few chances like Chris did when he was a kid if you want. Just make sure you’re wearing a helmet when you do.
Here are a few more tips to keep you and your kids safe during National Bike Safety Month and beyond:
Talk to your kids about wearing a helmet on every ride. More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to biking than any other sport.
Be a good role model by wearing a helmet on every ride. Kids are like sponges and they’ll do what they see us doing. So set the example for your kids and wear a helmet when you’re biking.
Make sure the helmet fits properly. We’ve all seen kids with loose helmets hanging off the back of their head. Unfortunately, that style will offer little protection in a fall. Take two minutes to check out our helmet fit test video to learn how to make sure your child’s helmet fits correctly.
For more safety tips, visit safekids.org.
Kate Carr is president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit dedicated to protecting kids from preventable injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, one million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the U.S. and with partners in 27 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Join the effort at Safekids.org.