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Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifting a New Bike? Give a New Helmet, Too

Santa wears a helmet when he rides
If you’re thrilling your child with a shiny new bicycle under the tree this holiday season, don’t forget to include the accessory that could save your child’s life — a new helmet. Old helmets or a sibling’s hand-me-down helmet may not provide the head protection needed, and could be dangerous to your child’s safety.

Even if your child’s old helmet appears in good shape, “there may be unseen dangers that could lessen its benefit,” cautions Craig Manifold, MD, emergency physician from San Antonio and a member of TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads Advisory Panel.

Used or hand-me down helmets also carry safety risks: Worn-out chin straps let helmets sit incorrectly on heads, and ozone and sunlight weaken and crack the outer plastic shell over time. The tiniest of these cracks can split open during a fall, injuring a child’s head. During scorching Texas summers, Dr. Manifold says, it’s important to “keep helmets stored in areas away from extreme heat” to prevent further damage.

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