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Your child might not think helmets are "cool." You might think they cost too much, but a helmet can save a child from a serious head injury in a fall or collision.

Bike helmets make sense for riders of all ages. Nationwide, over 1,000 people die each year from bicycle crashes -- mostly from head injuries. Even a low-speed crash on a bike path can cause serious brain damage. A bike helmet reduces your risk of senous head injury by at least 85 percent in most crashes. (Children copy adults. If you ride, wear a helmet!)


Children's helmets adjust to growing heads. They should fit comfortably and not move around on the head.

Oregon's Bicycle Helmet Law:

Effective on July 1, 1994, any youth under age 16 riding a bike or when a passenger on a bike in any public place (streets, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc.) must wear bicycle helmets labeled ANSI and/or Snell approved.

Bike helmets save lives and have been shown to reduce serious head injuries by as much as 85%.

You could get a ticket and a $25 fine. If you are under age 12, your parent or guardian could get a ticket. If you are over 12, either you or your parent can get a ticket.

What to Look for in a Helmet:

The correct fit is key for safety. A helmet should fit snugly on your head. It should be level from front to back, not tilted to the rear of your head and should cover most of your forehead. Foam pads inside the helmet can be removed or replaced to adjust the fit - this is especially important for growing children. Also look for a strong, adjustable chin strap and tough fastener.

Children, ages 6 to 12, are at the greatest risk for bike accidents. Injury to the head is the most serious result.

SHELL: Most helmets have a thin protective exterior shell, but there are also hard shell and soft shell (foam-only) models. While all types provide good impact protection, hard shell and thin shell styles may offer better protection than the soft shell if you crash at high speed on a rough surface. Soft shell helmets may be a good choice for toddlers whose developing neck muscles need a lighter helmet.

COMFORT: In addition to getting the right fit, you'll want to look for large front vents to keep your head cool, a comfortable, easy-to-release chin strap and a brow pad or sweatband.

COLOR: Buy a bright color for visibility. You want motorists and other cyclists to see you. Black helmets are especially hard for motorists to see. But let children choose their own to assure they will wear it.

SAFETY STANDARDS: There are two recognized US performance standards for bicycles helmets: ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and the Snell Memorial Foundation. Inside each helmet should be stickers telling you which impact standards the helmet meets. Good helmets meet the ANSI standard. Excellent helmets meet the more rigorous Snell helmet standard. Do not buy a helmet which does not at least meet the ANSI standard. Visors are not included for testing under helmet standards. While they may reduce glare, they can also shatter in a fall and cut your face. Remember to replace any helmet after a crash. Impact damages the foam. The helmet will be less protective even though the damage may not be visible.

Helmet Tips:

  • Don't negotiate. It's estimated that 75 percent of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.
  • Buy a helmet that meets or exceeds current safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Correct fit is essential. Helmets should be comfortable and snug, but not too tight. They shouldn't rock back and forth or side to side.
  • Make sure your child wears her helmet correctly ? centered on top of her head and always with the straps buckled. Children who wear their helmets tipped back have a 52 percent greater risk of head injury than those who wear their helmets properly.
  • If your child is reluctant to wear her helmet, try letting her choose her own. Helmets come in many colors and styles ? allowing children to choose a helmet that's "cool" may make them less likely to take it off when you're not around.
  • Talk to other parents and encourage them to have their kids wear helmets. Let your children see that you wear a helmet, too. Children are more likely to helmets when riding with others who wear them.