Kids' Bike Helmets

When it comes to kids' sports injuries, what's the leading cause of emergency room visits? Bike accidents.

Consumer Reports puts kids' helmets to the test.

"I rarely meet kids that were wearing their bicycle helmets," said Dr. Michael Tobias, a pediatric neurosurgeon. "I usually meet kids that weren't wearing their helmets, or weren't wearing their helmets properly."

Consumer Reports put a dozen children's bike helmets through some tough tests to see how well they'd protect your child.

In all, Consumer Reports tested a dozen helmets, ranging in price from $18-$50.

The test simulates what happens when your head hits the pavement.

Another test applied sudden force to the helmet straps and buckle to see whether they stretch or break. That helps determine whether the helmet would come off in an accident.

But Consumer Reports says is doesn't matter whether you get a good helmet if it doesn't fit correctly.

A popular Hannah Montana Denim helmet is supposed to fit children eight and up, but Consumer Reports found it's too big for some eight-year-olds. It actually fits some adults!

"A good fitting helmet should fit snugly even before you tighten the straps." said Consumer Reports' Rich Handel.

It should also be level and no more than one or two fingers' width above the brow.

The straps should for a "V" under each ear and the buckle should be centered under the chin.

The Schwinn Thrasher did very well overall in Consumer Reports' tests and-at $20-it's a Best Buy.

The right bicycle helmet will help make this childhood rite of passage a safe one.

Over time, a bicycle helmet's straps may need to be adjusted either because of stretching, slippage, or a child's growth.

Make sure you check them periodically.

As a rule of thumb, you should replace a helmet at least every five years, and be sure to get a new helmet after an accident.

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