Several months ago, my 6-year-old received his first bike from another family whose son had grown out of it. He was so excited about the bike, and almost as excited about the helmet. In fact, he would sometimes wear the helmet while playing in the yard. I never gave it a second thought to it. It’s a helmet, for goodness sakes. It’s a piece of safety equipment.
That’s what I thought, anyway, until a mom friend, Laura, told me this story:
Phillip (4) had on his bike helmet. He loves to play with it on. He had been riding his bike, but he likes to have it on even when he’s not riding. For some reason, it’s just fun to him. He wanted to show his grandma his wonderful tree climbing skills, so he quickly climbed up the small dogwood that we let the kids play in (it has low branches and as far as trees go, it’s pretty safe.) He still had his helmet on. His grandma (my mom) was holding my 7 month old, and I was talking with some company that was leaving. My mom was watching him and keeping the attention of baby, and she looked at him and wondered why he was taking so long to come down out of the tree. She could see that he had grasped two small limbs over his head like he would to “swing down.” After a few seconds she heard him make the smallest gasping sound and she realized that even though he had ahold of the limbs he was stuck between them because of his helmet. He didn’t have the strength to pull himself back up and the helmet was preventing him from falling through the limbs and was choking him. The straps were jerked hard against his throat…it was horrifying. He didn’t have a foot hold, so I guess he must have slipped when he was trying to get down. Of course, she got him down quickly. He was very scared and kept telling us that it hurt and that he couldn’t talk and we couldn’t hear him. It would have been so very different if my mom had not noticed him when she did. She was some distance from the tree, but was just close enough to hear him. I was in the yard but too far away to hear him and by the time I had seen my company off and noticed him it would have been too late.
We also have a low-branched tree in our yard, and I have seen our 6-year-old climbing it while wearing his helmet. As many dangers as I’m on the lookout for, helmet safety was not even a blip on my radar. Now I know better. And I hope you do, too.
Kristina is a stay-at-home mom of two boys. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and spends her down time sewing, baking, doing crafts with her children, and experimenting with recipes with her husband.