Why should I wear a helmet?

Senior Master Sgt. Steven M. Benoit
435th Air Base Wing Safety Office

Everyone should wear a bicycle or skateboard helmet – no one is invincible.
Each year there are about half a million bicycle-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Several years ago, I had the misfortune of responding to a bicycle fatality involving an Air Force member who did not wear a helmet – he lost control and his head collided with a guardrail … What if this was your spouse or child?

In 2000, CPSC reported that more than 26,000 children, ages 14 and under, were treated in hospital emergency rooms. Last year, more than 40,000 people – mostly children under 15 – were taken to hospital emergency rooms because of head injuries. For us to be responsible parents and adults, we need to set the example for children and other adults.

All U.S. personnel, including servicemembers, civilian employees, dependents, contractors, retirees and guests who ride bicycles and skateboards on a KMC installation, must wear an approved helmet. All non-U.S. personnel are highly encouraged to wear helmets; however, all personnel (U.S. and non-U.S.) who operate government owned bicycles must wear a bicycle helmet, except when operating bicycles on the flightline.

Helmet safety also applies to skateboards, scooters and in-line skating. Many people believe serious injuries from these popular activities only occur when they’re involved in an accident with a car, but the truth is the majority occur from falling or riding too fast and losing control.

At another base I was at, two 10-year-old children had similar but separate bicycle mishaps. Both children fell off their bikes and their heads struck the pavement. Both received concussions and multiple fractures to their skull. One almost died. She came out of a coma and now has permanent brain damage. Neither was wearing a helmet.

Parents need to ensure their children are properly protected. To test if the helmet fits correctly, follow these three easy steps:
Fit the helmet snugly enough so it doesn’t slide from side-to-side or front-to-back. Make sure it does not obstruct your field of vision.

Wear the helmet level on top of the head, not tilted in any direction.
Make sure the chinstrap is comfortably snug by sliding your finger under the strap and then removing your finger. The strap should snap back into place. No twisting or pulling should remove the helmet or loosen the buckle on the strap.