by Lyle Karasiuk
The warmer weather has brought many people outdoors cleaning yards, walking pets, or enjoying some long overdue family exercise. What ever brings you outdoors, doing the activity will prevent injury and an unnecessary visit to the hospital emergency room.
If cycling is on your list of activities, follow this advice:
• Make sure the bike is in good working order and properly maintained. Ensure the chain is tight and any damaged parts are repaired.
• Make sure the bike and bike helmet fit. Standing with feet flat on the ground your child should have at least 1 inch (2.5cm) between the bar and their crotch area. If the helmet is cracked or greater than 5 years of age, it needs to be replaced.
• Helmets need to fit flat on everyone’s head with two fingers between the chin and strap. Never wear a ball cap under your cycle helmet. Yes, everyone including mom’s and dad’s need to be wearing an approved cycle helmet.
Whether it is just the children out with friends, or the entire family should follow these bike rules:
• Always wear a helmet.
• Ride single file on the right-hand side of the road.
• Use arm signals when turning or changing lanes.
• Look both ways before crossing the street.
• Obey traffic lights and signs. It’s okay to walk your bike through an intersection if riding through busy traffic makes you uncomfortable.
• Learn to look over your shoulders without losing your balance or swerving.
• Scan the road ahead for potholes, railway crossings, slippery surfaces, loose gravel, and other obstacles.
• Remember that drivers have blind spots. Ride either well ahead of or well behind vehicles.
• Experienced riders should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. Beginners should learn on the sidewalk and be accompanied by an adult.
• Never wear headphones when cycling. The music is distracting and drowns out the noise of other traffic.
• Always ride with caution. Although you may see an approaching vehicle, the driver may not see you.
If your youth are headed to the skateboard park to try some new tricks safety is just as important for the skateboard enthusiast and BMX rider alike.
• Wear a helmet – cool multi-sport helmets are available from many local dealers.
• Wear additional protective equipment like wrist guards, knee pads or elbow pads.
• Don’t let loose clothing or laces get caught in the chain or spokes.
• Watch for others as to not collide.
• Practicing jumps or tricks are what you want to do but do so within the limits of your ability.
In case an incident occurs that results in potential injury do not move. Get help if someone complains of head, neck, or back pain. Do not try to move them. Dial 9-1-1 for the paramedics! If walking to and from school is a regular daily event for your child, review with them where to cross and how to use both marked and unmarked crosswalks. As adults we too need to be reminded to use crosswalks and not to cross in the middle of the block. Have a safe day!