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Keeping Kids Safe on Bikes

Saturday, August 13, 2011


The threats to kids' bike safety isn't just from cars.

Since May of this year, seven children between the ages of 6 and 14 have been admitted to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with abdominal injuries caused by striking the handlebars of a bicycle. Handlebar injuries can cause serious abdominal trauma including lacerations to internal organs such as the liver and spleen. Severe injuries can occur even as a result of a seemingly minor, low speed accident. These incidents have led the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital to urge parents and children to use increased caution and safety tactics to avoid these preventable bicycle injuries.

The Injury Prevention Center offers the following safety tips to help prevent unintentional bicycle injuries:

Children should always ride a bicycle that is the appropriate size for their height and ability.

Always make sure bikes are properly tuned up and that the brakes are working well.

Children should be taught the rules of the road and to pay attention to the road and potential obstacles and hazards while riding.

Children should always ride within their ability, and not attempt risky maneuvers or tricks.

Young children should always be supervised by an adult.

Children should never ride their bikes on streets with significant, if any, motor vehicle traffic.

All children, and adults, should always wear a properly fitted helmet while bicycling. Make sure it is properly sized, and certified for bicycle use. Let children pick out their helmets. If they don't like the helmet, they're less likely to wear it.

Children and youths who do BMX style tricks should be properly equipped and supervised. Chest protectors, elbow pads, gloves and a full face helmet will significantly reduce the chance of injury.

Flared handlebar grips can reduce the risk of internal injuries as a result of handlebar trauma. These devices are currently only available for toddler bicycles. The Injury Prevention Center is working with manufacturers to make these devises available for use on all sizes of bicycles.

Worn down bike grips, especially ones in which the metal is exposed at the end of the bar need to be immediately replaced. Try to pick out handlebar grips with a wide end.

Parents should maintain a high index of suspicion if their child experiences a handlebar injury and consult their primary care physician for evaluation.

Any parents with questions about bicycle safety can call the Injury Prevention Center at 444-5018. These safety tips and more information can be found online at www.ipc.rhodeislandhospital.org


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