Your brains are showing!

During my weekend skating jaunts on the local multi-use trail in Danville, it tickles me to see families enjoying the outdoors together—getting a little exercise on foot, bikes, scooters, or skates; walking the dog; and just generally sharing quality recreational time. What a great way for parents to share the fun and benefits of playing outdoors as a family! I always hope the kids are building memories that will guide their values as adults, and that they, too, will make it a point to participate often in the great outdoors with friends and family.

But there is one misguided family value I wish I could influence. When I see bare-headed parents bicycling with their helmeted kids, I have to wonder, what are the children learning from this? That helmets are kid stuff? There should be no double standard here. The adult head is made of stuff that is much more brittle than a child’s. When an adult skull hits the pavement it’s going to be at a higher speed due to height and with more weight behind the impact. The whole family needs the protection of properly fitted helmets when participating in wheeled sports!

And this brings me to my second issue. If the child’s helmet is tipped back to expose a large expanse of forehead, there is a significant risk that it won’t be protecting that part of his or her brain in a forward crash.

In the rare opportunities where I get a chance to interact with the family, I jokingly say to the child, “Uh oh, your brains are showing!” and then advise the parent that by shortening the front straps, the helmet will stay forward on the child’s head—assuming it isn’t too large to stay put in the first place.

Spread the word: there is a right way and a wrong way to wear helmets. See my August 2009 Orbit article, Proper Helmet Fit, for more details and a diagram showing how to adjust a helmet so it offers the safety and performance for which it was designed.

And if you skate bareheaded yourself? Remember, all it takes is just one slip!

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