Riding bikes is a fun summer activity for kids, but it can come with some risks. Luckily, you can do many things to make sure biking is an enjoyable and safe experience for your family. Here are some bike safety tips to help keep your children safe on their bike-riding adventures this summer.
Choose the right bike size
Every child learns at their own pace, but most learn to bike between 4 and 7 years of age. It is important to choose the right bike size for your child so their feet can touch the ground when they sit on the bike seat.
Wear a helmet
Whether your child is on a tricycle or bicycle, they should always wear a helmet. Ensure that the helmet is snug and fastened appropriately. Come to one of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Safety Stop locations to make sure your child has an appropriately fitted bicycle helmet. Helmets have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of head injuries. Be a role model and wear a helmet yourself too.
Wear the right clothing
Clothing and shoes, especially shoelaces, can get tangled and cause falls and injuries. Close-toed and well-fitting shoes are ideal. Pads for knees, elbows, and wrists are helpful, especially in the early phase. Do not remove the bike reflectors! They serve a purpose.
Choose the right environment
Make sure the environment is safe, without distractions, well-lit, and away from speeding vehicles. If you have dedicated bike paths in your area, utilize them. Biking on the grass can reduce the risk of injuries.
Teach your kids the rules of the road
Always get off the bike when crossing streets, do not ignore stop lights, stay on the right side when riding on the road and avoid cell phone usage.
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Know the common injuries associated with biking
Head injuries are common but preventable with helmets. Abdominal and groin injuries can occur from the handlebar and central bar. Fractures can happen, especially at the hand or wrist. If you worry about any of the above in your child, talk with your doctor.
If your child experiences a bike-related injury, all caregivers should know your preference for which hospital a child should be taken to in case of an emergency. Our Washington University Children’s After Hours locations provide convenient medical care for your child’s illnesses and injuries as a faster alternative to ERs when your pediatrician’s office is closed.
In case of a medical emergency with a child, determine where the nearest accredited, Level I pediatric trauma center is located. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has six pediatric ER locations across the St. Louis and southern Illinois region. These include St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Belleville, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Children’s Hospital at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Children’s Hospital at Northwest HealthCare, and Children’s Hospital at Progress West Hospital.
For more information about bike safety, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website: www.healthychildren.org for evidence-based recommendations.