House Call: Holiday Safety Pt. 3

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 5:51 PM EST
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Welcome back to UHC’s House Call on WDTV. One of the most popular gift for kids during the holidays is a bike, but more than 250,000 children are injured each year as a result of a bicycle-related accident. Joining us tonight is Dr. Whitney Courtney, family medicine physician and faculty at UHC Family Medicine, for our third installment on Toy Safety.

1). More than 250,000 bicycle injuries annually seems like a lot of injuries, so when it comes to bicycle safety, what is one of first things that a parent or guardian should teach his or her child soon after the child unwraps their bike?

You’re right, 250,000 is too many injuries. So, teach your child to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Take this opportunity to reinforce this simple tip and practice a few times with your child to make sure they know the right thing to do when an adult is not available.

2). So, street versus sidewalk, which choice of surface is appropriate when biking?

That depends on the age and maturity of your child. The safest place for bicycle riding is on the street, where bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction. However…

  • Children less than 10 years old are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street.
  • Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk.
  • For anyone riding on a sidewalk:
    • Check the law in your State or jurisdiction to make sure sidewalk riding is allowed.
    • Watch for vehicles coming out of or turning into driveways.
    • Stop at corners of sidewalks and streets to look for cars and to make sure the drivers see you before crossing.
    • Enter a street at a corner and not between parked cars. Alert pedestrians that you are near by saying, “Excuse me,” or, “Passing on your left,” or use a bell or horn.
    • Make sure your child has the proper light and reflectors for his or bike, too. These are necessary for any riding in the late afternoon/early evening.
    • I also like to recommend knee and elbow pads as an added safety measure.

For more information on bicycle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Web site at: www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

3). If your child received a bike as a gift, but no helmet, what should you do?

A bike and helmet go hand-in-hand. Your child should not have one without the other. He or she should stay off the bike until a helmet is purchased. It is also important to wear a properly-fitted helmet. So take your child shopping to try on helmets to ensure the proper fit.

Taking a bike ride is always a great activity for kids, and it seems more and more kids are cruising around either by themselves or with their families. This is no time for needless trip to the hospital, so remind your child about the importance of wearing a helmet every time he or she goes for a ride. If you are going riding with your child, remember to be a good role model and wear your helmet as well. Kids look up to you.

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