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Though most states require kids to wear a helmet when they ride a bike, it falls to parents to enforce this rule and to apply it to any sport in which kids—even little kids—can reach a high speed. "A good rule of thumb is if your child is on anything with wheels, he or she should wear a helmet," says Cheryl Wu, M.D., a pediatrician in New York City. This means mandatory helmet-wearing while riding a scooter, skateboard, bicycle, tricycle, or rollerblades.
The fit of the helmet is critical: A well-fitted helmet sits just above the eyebrows and the fastening straps create a V-shape that surrounds the ears and then is fastened under the chin, says Lisa Pardi, R.N., M.S.N., injury prevention coordinator for Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio. "It should be snug enough that it will not rock back and forth on the child's head. Use the pads provided with the helmet to snug it up and try tightening the chin strap," she says. To test the fit, have the child shake his head back and forth, suggests Tracey Fejt, R.N., injury prevention coordinator at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona. "The helmet should not move, and you should be able to get just one finger between the child's chin and the strap," Fejt says.
Final check: Make sure the helmet sports an American Standards Testing Materials (ASTM) label. This indicates that the helmet has been tested and suits Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for safety.
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