At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, summer is “trauma season.” Birds are chirping, flowers are sprouting and kids are falling — off their bikes, scooters and while on their in-line skates. Last weekend, our Emergency Department admitted 12 kids with injuries related to summer activities. Half of them were bicycle injuries.

As a parent, we have many responsibilities, but none is more important than being a role model. Trust me — kids are watching. A couple of weeks ago, I bought my daughter a pair of in-line skates for her birthday. I have been blading for years, and she was excited to join me. When picking them out, she pointed out that she needed the pads and wrist guards, since she has seen me wear my safety gear. She knew she wasn’t going to be allowed to try out her blades without her gear. She has fallen many times and ripped a couple of pairs of pants, but she hasn’t been injured — thanks, of course, to the helmet, elbow pads, wrist guards and knee pads.

Helmets are a necessity, not an accessory

One of the best ways to help prevent serious bike injuries is to make sure everyone in your family wears a helmet every time they ride. We are a very active family so we have already taken several bike rides this spring. I have been saying for years that helmets are a necessity, not an accessory. In fact, the kids in the neighborhood know that if they see me, they better have their helmet on their head, not hanging on their handlebars. I stop and remind the kids about the importance of wearing that helmet, and I’ve been known to fix helmets that are not fitted properly. We have extra helmets at our house so if friends come over and bikes, blades or scooters come out, so do the helmets.

It’s also important for kids to stay alert and know the rules of the road. Most accidents in which a kid on a bike is hit by a car happen because the child did not obey traffic rules. We also see kids who crash because they aren’t paying attention.

Learn more about bicycle, skateboard and in-line skating safety.

While we are in trauma season, I’m asking you to be a role model and an advocate. Get outside, get active and by all means be sure to wear your helmet.

– Bridget Clementi, director, Community Health, Children’s Hospital of WisconsinBridget Clementi

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