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Utah County kids get free helmets to promote safety, prevent head injuries

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 17, 2022

MARK JOHNSTON, Daily Herald file photo

Jansen Payne, 3, of Provo, has his helmet buckled by his father Keith Payne before the family joined a group of cyclists to take a ride from the courthouse in celebration of Bike to Work Day Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

LEHI — Dozens of Utah children received a free helmet this week from Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital trauma and safety teams.

The free giveaway was aimed at preventing serious and potentially life-threatening injuries by urging children to wear helmets every time they get on a bike, dirt bike, skateboard or any other mode of transportation this summer.

“We often think of helmets as something to be worn riding bikes, which is true, but we also want kids to wear helmets when they ride scooters, dirt bikes, ATVs, roller blades, skateboards, hoverboards, even tricycles and balance bikes, to help them stay safe,” said Jessica Strong, community health director at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “Kids can be seriously injured, sometimes fatally, if they fall while riding. That’s why it’s critical they wear a helmet every ride, every time.”

Approximately 1,500 traumatic injuries involving children are treated at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital each year. Of those, about 40% are head injuries. The Intermountain West also has the fourth-highest traumatic brain injury hospitalization rate in the country for children.

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, 477 Utahns were involved in bicycle crashes in 2020. Six of those crashes were fatal.

Strong said trauma accidents involving children rise during the summer months and typically peak in July. Some of the injuries could be prevented by wearing a helmet, she added.

“As a pediatric trauma surgeon, it’s heartbreaking to see a child come in with injuries that could have been prevented or made far less severe by wearing a helmet,” said Dr. Katie Russell, a physician at University of Utah Health and trauma medical director at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “The effects of traumatic brain injury can be devastating for kids and their families. That’s why it’s so important that families can get a good-fitting helmet and help their child put it on before every ride.”

Strong said kids outgrow helmets just like they outgrow clothes or shoes.

“Parents should check the fit of their child’s helmet before they ride. If they need a new helmet, parents don’t need to spend a lot of money,” she said. “Helmets are available in retail stores in a number of price ranges, and all have passed safety requirements to help kids have a safer ride.”

Parents should check the fit of their child’s helmet by following these guidelines:

  • The helmet fits snugly and sits level on the child’s head.
  • The helmet fits two finger widths above the child’s eyebrow
  • The side strap “V” shape fits just under the child’s ears.
  • One adult’s finger can fit between the child’s chin and the strap.

The helmets were handed out to families at the Lehi Skate Park near the construction site of the new Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Campus, which is expected to open in 2024. The hospital will have teams of specialists that include trauma services and a 19-bed emergency department for children who need care.

“We’re excited to offer these services to children closer to their communities,” said Lisa Palette, a registered nurse at the hospital. “We’d be even happier if kids could stay safe and out of the hospital by wearing helmets whenever they step onto a scooter, skateboard or any other ride.”


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