An Ounce of Prevention

Posted on

Mar 26, 2013

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Florida - Southwest

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Unlike most of the country, January in Southwest Florida is perfect bicycle riding weather. Its actually a great time for us to take a moment to think about biking safely. Taking a few quick precautions can keep a fun day of biking from turning into an unpleasant ride to the emergency room.
Be Smart - Wear A Helmet
The state of Florida requires anyone under the age of 16 to wear a helmet when riding a bike. Why? Because wearing a helmet is the single best thing you can do to protect your head when riding a bicycle. Bicycle helmets literally save lives. Did you know that most bike deaths come from head injuries and bike helmets help prevent these severe head injuries. So wear your helmet.
But helmets don't work well if they are not properly fitted. So, it's vital to have a good fitting helmet. Parents, try to avoid buying an oversized helmet for your child to grow into. When selecting a helmet it's better to have your child try on the size you think will fit them and also one size smaller. Select the smallest size that fits comfortably. Adjust your child's helmet so it fits snugly and correctly. The straps should be tight when the chinstrap is buckled and the helmet level on the head, with the front edge of the helmet no more than one inch above the eyebrows.
See And Be Seen
Use all of your senses to stay alert to your surroundings by constantly scanning the area. Listen to what is going on around you to help avoid problems, which means wearing headphones while bike riding is a big mistake. Also, make it as easy as possible for cars to see you by wearing bright colors or clothes that reflect light at night. If you ride at night, it is important to get a headlight for the front of your bike and "reflectors" on the front and back of your bike. It's the law and it can save your life!
Follow the Rules of the Road
Bikes are considered vehicles, so they have to follow the same traffic rules as cars. Bicycles must travel in the same direction as cars, yield to pedestrians like cars, and stay alert to their surroundings. If riding in a group ride single-file and remember to signal when stopping or turning. Also, look out for holes or cracks in the street as they are often the cause of crashes. More experienced riders know to try to ride away from the curb to avoid cars that suddenly pull out or unexpected car doors opening. It's recommended that children under the age of nine avoid riding their bikes in the street, until they are more comfortable dealing with these challenges.
Bicycle riding is not only fun, but also a terrific way to enjoy our lovely weather, have fun with family and stay fit. Remembering these basic reminders will go a long way to keeping everyone biking safely.

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Mark Tesoro, an Analyst/Health Educator for the Lee Memorial Health System's Department of Trauma Services where he develops and promotes injury prevention programming throughout a five county region.

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