I know that not everyone agrees on the necessity of helmet laws (in the United States). But, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an event that happened seven years ago, today. It was a beautiful day, just like today was, and we'd just moved into this house a few months prior. One of the reasons we bought the house was because it's on a very quiet cul-de-sac street (if you don't know what that means, it's basically a street with no exit and a big, asphalt turn-around circle). We were really keen on letting the kids play outside and do all those things that make childhood fun. But, because I'm pretty neurotic about my kids safety, I never let them get on a bike without a helmet. So,...June 7, 2001. My mom was outside sitting in a lawn chair watching the kids play and ride bikes while I was in the house setting up the nursery (I was pregnant). The nursery was/is at the front of the house with a window that looks out to the street. At some point, the kids decided to ride bikes and I put their helmets on and asked my mom to supervise. All of the sudden, I heard the sickening sound of a child's scream and a loud "THWACK". As I rushed over to the window, I saw that my mom's chair was tipped over and she was running away. I bolted outside and saw P1 screaming and crying. She was pointing across the street towards where my mom was going. P2 was lying on the ground not moving and his bike was several feet away from him. The neighbor's car had a huge scrape on it and the bike was under the back, passenger side tire. Without looking, the neighbor lady had gunned it out of her driveway (she was angry at her husband and in one of those rages where she just wanted to leave). She didn't see P2 because, when he was on his bike, his head barely cleared the top of her trunk. She hit him and the force threw him about six feet from the bumper of her car.
When I got to P2, he was stirring. He had massive road rash on one side and was complaining about his side hurting. But, he was alive and we all breathed a sigh of relief. After checking him for neck and spinal injury, we sat him up and it was then that his helmet fell off. The helmet had cracked completely through. It was only held together by the chin straps and a strip of thick fitting pads. The shell was in half and the paint was gone off one side.
I know some people who say that the fact that the helmet was broke isn't necessarily indicative of the fact that P2 would've had a severe head injury. And, maybe they're right. But, I know what I saw and I know that the helmet was rated to withstand a decent amount of force and it was trashed. P2's head was perfectly fine - just a bit sore. We took him to the ER and they did x-rays. His ribs had some bruising and his road rash was pretty ugly, but he had no head injuries. When I handed the helmet to the doctor, he said that he had no doubt that it had saved him from a serious head injury. I was afraid to ask him to elaborate, but...I got the picture.
So, while I understand that they're inconvenient and take some time to fit correctly, I can't stress how important I think helmets are. Take the two minutes. Spend the $15. If you're an adult, then this choice is yours. But, if you're a parent, please, please, please make sure your child has a helmet on ANY TIME they are riding a bike. A child's head is large in comparrison to their body. They're top heavy. That means they are more likely to sustain head injuries than adults.
As you can see from these pictures from today, P3 and P4 wear helmets even when they're in the bike trailer. They also use wear them on tricycles and bikes. As you can see, P1 is wearing hers. In the words of Nike: Just do it. By the helmet...take the time. Have a safe summer!
*Note: P2 is in St. Louis. No pics of him.