Whether teaching a young child how to ride a bike for the first time or sending older kids outside for some fresh air, parents must insist that bikers wear helmets for their safety. “It’s vital that parents teach kids of all ages to wear proper helmets when biking,” said Beth Loveday, Rural/Metro EMT and bike team leader. “While kids may not want to wear a helmet, it can prevent injury and even save their lives in a bike accident.”

Members of Rural/Metro’s bike team patrol community events to help keep people safe and provide assistance. Because they are on bikes, team members can often reach emergencies at densely populated events more quickly than ambulances. Because bikes are used to perform their jobs, team members have first-hand experience on the importance of bike safety.

“We encounter many emergencies throughout our careers,” Loveday said. “It’s always tough to see the traumatic injury of a child.”

Loveday recommends that parents utilize these tips from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute to encourage helmet safety even among reluctant children:

  • Establish the helmet habit early. Have kids wear helmets when they first start learning to ride a bike and even when they are still riding tricycles.
  • Let kids pick the helmet. If kids make the decision, they are more likely to buy into the idea. Even if a “cool” helmet costs a little more, it may be worth the investment in their safety if it ensures they’ll wear the helmet.
  • Wear a helmet yourself. Kids learn best by observing parents, so be a good role model.
  • Encourage their friends. Peer pressure can be used in a positive way if several families in the neighborhood agree to make helmet use a regular habit for kids at their homes.
  • Talk to them about the reasons. Let kids know that you want them to protect their heads. You love them and value them, and they could hurt their heads permanently or even die from a head injury.
  • Teach bike safety. Give your child a short course in bike safety using a guide like the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s “Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bicycle,” which is available online at http://www.bhsi.org. Placing helmets in the context of a safety program helps underscore that it’s necessary – not just an arbitrary rule.
  • Point out the pros. When watching sporting events, show kids that professional athletes use helmets to protect their heads.
  • Head to a bike race. Take your child to a bicycle race where he or she can see that bicycle racers worldwide wear helmets.
  • Reward kids. Praise kids for wearing their helmets. Consider giving them a special treat or privilege when they put on their helmet without having to be told to do so.
  • Don’t let them ride without one. Be consistent. Never let your child ride a bike without wearing a helmet. If they refuse, take the bike away. Without a helmet, they’ll have to find another way to play, or they’ll have to walk or take the bus instead.
  • Bike together. Families can enjoy the fun and exercise of biking, and all wear their helmets to reinforce the lesson. Remember, crashes causing head injuries can occur anywhere: on sidewalks, driveways, bike paths and parks as well as on streets. Neither you nor your children can predict when a situation will result in a fall from a bike. It is important to wear a helmet always, even if riding a bike just down the street or on a bike trail.

Rural/Metro Ambulance Service is the only accredited provider in the state, with contracts for 911 service in Knox, Blount, Loudon and Franklin counties. Rural/Metro Corporation provides emergency and non-emergency medical transportation, fire protection, and other safety services in 22 states and approximately 365 communities throughout the United States.