Protect your brain from serious injury
A hit to the head can be painful – it can also be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 150 Americans die every day from injuries related to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S., but it can be prevented with the proper use of a helmet.
“Our injury prevention department looks at trends in trauma-related accidents seen here at Kootenai Health and creates programs around those trends,” Wendy Ferguson, RN, injury prevention coordinator, said. “Our injury prevention programs aim at educating our community on ways to decrease and prevent the risk of serious injury or death, through education.”
Preventing Brain Injuries
In 2020, bicycle, motorcycle, and ATV injuries accounted for nearly 15 percent of trauma cases at Kootenai Health. Through community education events and other outreach efforts, Wendy and her Injury Prevention team are working to decrease the number of trauma injuries in our community. Discussing helmet safety is one of the many ways they are doing this.
“A helmet should be worn for all wheel sports, biking, skating, motorcycling and riding ATVs, and snow sports such as snowboarding and skiing. It is important to wear the right helmet for the right sport,” Wendy said. “A bicycle helmet won’t protect you from an ATV crash; they aren’t rated for the high rates of speed and impact seen in ATV and motorcycle injuries. Motorcycle and ATV helmets need to be Department of Transportation (DOT) approved. We emphasize this concept in all our presentations, but especially at the high school Think First presentations.”
How can I tell if my helmet fits properly?
A helmet should be both comfortable and snug. Be sure the helmet is worn level on your head—not tilted back on the top of your head or pulled too low over your forehead. While you wear the helmet, it should not move in any direction, back-to-front or side-to-side. For helmets with a chinstrap, be sure it is securely fastened so the helmet does not move or fall off during a fall or collision.
Bring your child or teen with you when purchasing a helmet so you can test it for a good fit. Look for a helmet with labels that have the date of manufacture and a certification by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or DOT, depending on what type of helmet you are purchasing. Those labels mean the helmet meets the federal safety standard.
How can I learn more?
Watch for community helmet safety events to get your child’s helmet inspected for damage and proper fit. You can also visit kh.org/injury-prevention for additional resources, videos, and information about events.
“The most important thing we can do while out recreating is wear the proper safety equipment,” Wendy said. “That’s often the difference between life and death.”
Helmet Safety by the Numbers
Bicycle and Winter Helmet Safety Events – Helmets purchased with funds donated through Kootenai Health Foundation:
- 2018: 15 events, 2367 children educated, 823 helmets distributed
- 2019: 11 events, 1275 children educated, 532 helmets distributed
- 2020: 3 events, 230 children educated, 208 helmets distributed
Kootenai Health’s Injury Prevention team is planning several drive-up helmet safety events this year. Be sure to watch for information through your child’s school, or follow the Kootenai Health Facebook page for dates and locations.
You can support helmet safety and education through the Kootenai Health Foundation. To learn more or make a donation, visit kootenaihealthfoundation.org or call (208) 625-4438.