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Getting the right helmet fit is very important

Marisca and her daughter learn the hard way about the importance of a properly fitted bike helmet
Marisca found out the hard way that getting the proper fit, both in size and style are important to bike safety. Pictured: Noa, one of the winners in the 2020 Bike to Work Week event in Smithers. (Contributed photo)

My children love biking. And I love that they enjoy it. Biking is such a great way to spend time outdoors, get some exercise and fresh air. It is a sport I am happy to encourage.

So, the other day, I packed up their bicycles and took them to the newly paved first leg of the pathway between Telkwa and Smithers. The idea was to make a nice afternoon out of it.

Of course, I made sure they had good running shoes on, their bikes were tuned up and they all had their helmets. I thought I was doing everything right, until I realized I had made a mistake.

My middle daughter, who is five, was wearing her helmet but unfortunately, it was ever so slightly too big. It was a hand-me-down from her big sister, and didn’t quite fit her right.

She crashed her bike and slid on her face. There was instant blood and tears. She was right in front of me and saw that she was biking too fast, lost control and fell. Her helmet slid back, leaving her forehead exposed to the pavement.

We rushed her home, cleaned her up, checked her over and gave her a Popsicle. She was banged up but OK. It could have been much worse.

I felt like garbage. I thought passing down a helmet was good. I was saving money and contributing to saving the environment by reusing her sister’s old helmet. But I should have made sure the helmet fit properly. It should not have slid backward when she fell forward.

The next day we made a stop at McBike’s. I wanted her to be fitted properly by a professional. While buying a new helmet will cost money, a concussion would cost a lot more.

The statistics are compelling in that 78 per cent of adult cyclists and 88 per cent of young riders who suffered head and neck injuries were not wearing helmets when they were injured, according to a new study published in the journal Brain Injury.

Another study found universal bike helmet use by children aged 0 to 14 would prevent 212 to 294 deaths annually.

So off to the store we went. We walked into the bike shop and were met by a friendly man who assisted us. He tried several different styles and sizes on my daughter. She shook her head yes and no and then up and down.

It had to be tight yet comfortable. And of course, she had to like the colour. If she doesn’t like the look or feel of it, the chances are she won’t wear it. We found a good fit, both style-wise and fit-wise.

I am happy to report, she got back on the bike. I was worried she would be too scared but her new helmet gave her some confidence back. (And made this mama feel better.)

She has gone back to her love of biking and we all learned a valuable lesson that I hope others can learn from.

READ MORE: Learning to slow down

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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