Netcare advocates helmet safety on World Head Injury Awareness Day

Netcare visits schools to educate children about helmet safety

Thursday, March 20 2014

Netcare put the spotlight on helmet safety on World Head Injury Awareness Day today (20 March) when Netcare Union and Netcare Milpark hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Centres visited two schools in Gauteng to educate learners on the principles of helmet safety. This forms part of Netcare’s Trauma Injury Prevention (TIP) programme. Pupils at Mondeor Primary School and Rosebank Primary School learned about the importance of wearing helmets when cycling, quadbiking or motorbiking; the requirements for a safe helmet and how to properly fit a helmet.

“Accidents causing head injuries could occur on roads, pavements, parks, offroad and even in your own backyard. Wearing a helmet increases your chances of preventing serious injury from a fall, crash or collision. Therefore it is important that children, and indeed adults, wear a helmet every single time they get on their bike, even if they are ‘just going down the road’ or riding in their driveway,” notes Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

One could easily reach speeds of 20km per hour or faster on a bicycle. When you fall off your bike and your head hits the ground at such speeds, impact on your head and brain may cause permanent, irreversible injury. Helmets absorb the force of the impact so the effect on your head and your brain is reduced.

Toubkin offers the following advice to parents on what to look out for when purchasing a helmet and how to fit their child’s, and indeed their own, helmet.

How to choose a helmet

  • The most important things to look out for are the certification sticker and a good fit.
  • Both soft and hard shell helmets have thick layers of polystyrene, so choose the type you prefer.
  • The helmet should be comfortable, must cover your forehead and should not be so loose that it is able to slip back and forth on your head.
  • Do not buy a helmet that your child will ‘grow into’. Buy a helmet that fits your child now.

How to fit a helmet
Remember the 2-V-1 helmet salute:

  • There should be a two-finger space above your eyebrows to the base of the helmet. This ensures that your forehead is protected should you fall.
  • Use four fingers to make a ‘V’ shape around the bottom of your ears. Keep the straps straight and taut as this will keep the helmet fixed in position as you ride.
  • Place one finger under the strap beneath your chin. Keep the chin strap taut so the helmet doesn’t slide back or forth on your head.
  • To adjust the length of the straps, start with the rear straps, then the front straps and finally the chin strap, which should be comfortably snug.
  • When you think the length of the straps is correct, shake your head around. Put your palm under the front edge and push up and back. If you can move the helmet more than 2.5cm then you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear and perhaps loosen the rear strap behind your ear.
  • When you are done, your helmet should be level, feel solid on your head and be comfortable.

How to ensure that your helmet is safe

  • Regularly check and inspect the helmet to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Always replace a helmet that has been involved in an accident or is damaged.
  • Check the exterior covering of the helmet to ensure that there are no cracks or abrasions. Cracks are signs of ageing and mean that the helmet needs replacing.
  • The liner should be firm and the thickness of the foam should be uniform and not compressed.
  • The straps and buckle should not be worn, no parts should be missing and all parts should be in good working order.

“Remember that wearing a helmet is the most effective strategy for preventing or reducing the severity of head injuries in case of a bike accident. Most importantly, it is imperative that both children and adults alike ensure that their helmet fits correctly as a helmet will only protect your head if you wear a good quality helmet properly every time,” Toubkin concludes.

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Sarah Beswick or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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