Use your head by protecting it!
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute recommends that no one should ride a bicycle without a helmet.
In West Virginia, state law requires anyone 15 years of age and younger to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. In some West Virginia cities, all bicyclists are required to wear a helmet while riding. Parents and students are advised to check local bicycle helmet laws.
What kind of helmet to buy?
It is federal law that bicycle helmets must have a label from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, the law also considers helmets manufactured before 1999 with labels by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) to be acceptable.
How should it fit?
To get the most protection from wearing a helmet, it is important that it fits properly. Here are some tips to ensure that you are wearing your helmet correctly.
- The helmet should fit flat on top of your head. The brim should be parallel with the ground. It should not sit too far forward, to the back or side. See illustration.
- Once the helmet straps are snapped together, there should be enough room to fit one finger between your chin and the strap. The straps should be snug but not too tight and they should form a "V" under your ears. See illustration.
- Be sure to check your helmet carefully for wear and tear. Replace helmets if involved in a crash or any other defects are noticed.
- For young bicyclists, buy a helmet that fits you now. Do not buy one that you will grow into. Remember to take your helmet off when finished riding, especially if you will be doing other outdoor activities.
Just as important as wearing a helmet that fits properly, so should you ride a bike that fits.
Once you stand flat-footed over your bike, there should be at least one-inch clearance between the bike’s top bar and you. If you plan to ride off road on a mountain bike, there should be at least two inches of clearance. Make sure your bike is in good working condition. A local bike shop is a good place to have your bike checked at least once a year.
When riding, bicyclists are required to signal when stopping or changing direction. The only time bicyclists should not use signals is when both hands are needed on the handlebars for balance.
The correct signals are made with the left arm as illustrated:
To make a left turn, extend left arm straight out to the side.
To make a right turn, bend left arm in an upward motion.
To stop, extend left arm downward.
If you or a friend has a bicycle wreck, it is important that you don’t panic. Keep calm and you will be able to better help the person who is injured. Keep with you telephone numbers for parents or guardians in case you have an accident and someone you don’t know helps you.
Remember these first aid basics if a friend is injured in a bike accident.
- If the person is awake, do your best to make the person comfortable.
- If the injured person is not awake or cannot move, don’t move that person unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not move anyone complaining of neck or back pain.
- If you do not know what to do, call for help. In most towns, the emergency telephone number is 911.
- Take a course in first aid, especially cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). These courses are offered by national health organizations and many local community organizations.
- Keep the injured person warm and safe from additional injury.