05/27/2016 - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As the unofficial start of summer kicks off this Memorial Day weekend, it's a great time to talk about bicycle safety.
In 2013, approximately 118 children died of bike-related injuries, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. McLeod Safe Kids/Pee Dee Coastal said more children are seen in emergency rooms due to bike accidents as well.
Ashley Costas, with McLeod Health, said a proper helmet is the first line of protection.
"Unfortunately, what we do see is kids don't really wear helmets," Costas said. "And we can completely prevent a lot of injuries with helmets. It's very simple. Unfortunately, again, we don't see parents wearing helmets and we have to lead by example."
When purchasing a helmet for a child, Costas said an easy way to find out if it's the right size is to remember three things - eyes, ears and mouth.
- Eyes: Put the helmet on the child’s head and have him or her look up. Parents should see the bottom rim of the helmet.
- Ears: Make sure the straps form a "V” under the child’s ears when buckled. The straps should be a little tight, but comfortable.
- Mouth: Have the child open their mouth as wide as possible. Does the helmet hug their head? If not, tighten the straps.
It's also key to advise children about the rules of the road. Costas said dusk is the most dangerous time, and parents should really avoid letting them ride.
She added there are some common misconceptions about biking rules, such as the notion that bikers should ride against traffic. The proper method is to ride with it, or "go with the flow of traffic."
Additionally, those on bicycles should stay on sidewalks unless there is a marked bike path, Costas said. Parents should also keep an eye on the weather to make sure it is suitable for riding.
For more on bike safety, visit the bike safety section on the McLeod Safe Kids website.