Isaac Newton’s Law of Inertia states that objects in motion continue in motion, at the same speed and in the same direction, unless they are acted upon by an outside force. For example, say you are riding your bicycle at 5 miles per hour and suddenly hit a rock in the road. Your bicycle goes from 5 miles per hour to almost zero instantly; however, your body continues to move at 5 miles per hour until another force stops your motion (in this case, that force is the ground).
It doesn’t take much force to damage the brain. That 3-pound complex human organ is responsible for bodily functions and control of all organ systems in the body. The brain is an intricate structure floating in cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. When impact occurs, the brain is thrust forward into the skull and then reverses into the back of the skull. The associated trauma to the brain can cause harmful, sometimes deadly, outcomes.
May is National Bike Month, and along with bringing awareness to the many beneficial aspects of riding a bike, the goal of National Bike Month is to raise awareness of bicycle safety. Bicycling is a great form of exercise, an alternative commuting method, and a fun activity for the family. But there is also an important safety aspect that needs to be addressed. Cyclists and drivers make mistakes, and accidents are bound to happen. Ensuring that bike riders are protecting that very important organ inside their head with a helmet is a vital component in making sure they can walk away from an accident.
It’s important to have a properly fitted bicycle helmet. A helmet should be snug, level and stable on your head and should cover most of your forehead before adjustments are made. Here are a few tips to check whether or not a helmet is right fit for your head:
• First, measure your head and find a helmet in your head size. Details are usually described on the inside or side of the helmet.
• Place the helmet on your head, without buckling the chin strap, and move/shake your head from side to side to see if the helmet shifts.
• If the helmet moves too much, it’s too loose and needs tightening with pads or the fitting ring on the back of the helmet.
Once you have the properly sized helmet, you will need to make adjustments to further customize the helmet for safety. Here is what you should check:
• Position: Does the helmet sit level on your head and low on your forehead (two finger-widths above your eyebrow)?
• Side straps: Do the side straps form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of your ears? If so, lock the adjustment slider to secure the position.
• Buckles: Are the straps for the helmet the proper length in order to secure the buckle under the chin?
• Chin strap: Once you buckle and tighten the chin strap so that the helmet is snug, does the helmet pull down if you open your mouth wide? One or two fingers of space is the only amount of room you should have between the chin strap and your chin.
Wearing a properly fitted helmet is one of the easiest ways to prevent injury while bike riding. Everyone should wear a helmet! Parents, be a good role model for your children and put your helmet on when you go for a bike ride in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community. Be safe, ride safe.
For more information and tutorials about helmet safety, including choosing and fitting a helmet, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at www.bhsi.org.