Dublin Villager

Smoke signals

Bicycling without a helmet is risky proposition


Bicycling season in Central Ohio is just around the corner. Dublin's bike paths provide many options for those of us who are anxious to get riding again.

In preparation for that day when you will take your first ride of the season, check your equipment to ensure your safety.

Make sure the bike fits the rider. Have a certified cycling mechanic inspect your bike. Wear a properly fitted helmet. Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious disability in bicycle-related crashes.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, head injuries cause two-thirds of about 700 bicycle deaths each year and bicycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent.

However, bicycle helmets can greatly reduce the risk of brain and skull injuries if they are fitted and worn properly and regularly. Remember the four S's when selecting a helmet.

* Size -- Try on several different helmets before you purchase one. The helmet should be comfortable and snug. Extra pads can be used to enhance the fit. Helmet pads should not be used to make a helmet that is too big fit. Don't buy a helmet that is too big with the idea that he/she will grow into it.

* Strap -- The straps should be joined just under each ear at the jawbone. The buckle should be snug, but allow the wearer to open their mouth comfortably.

* Straight -- The bottom edge of the helmet should be nearly parallel to the ground, not at an angle. The front of the helmet should be just about the rider's eyebrows.

* Standards -- The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Snell Memorial Foundation, and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) have developed voluntary standards for bicycle helmets.

Make sure the helmet you use bears a label from one of these organizations indicating that it meets certain testing criteria.

To help encourage helmet use, involve the rider in buying the helmet.

Make sure he/she is happy with the appearance.

Set a good example for your children by wearing a helmet, no matter how brief the trip. Replace a helmet immediately, if it is damaged.

Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke Signals column.