Keep kids safe this summer with protective gear

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Every year, about 300,000 kids across the country will wind up in the emergency room because of a head injury on a bike. Prevention is as simple as wearing a helmet.

The majority of kids coming into the Texas Children's Hospital Trauma Center with head injuries are due to falls or non-accidental trauma such as abuse.

Last year alone, 411 kids were admitted to TCH with head injuries. Of those, 14 were from bike crashes, all without helmets.

Five were involved in dirt bike crashes where two were not wearing helmets.

Seven came in because of ATV accidents -- six without helmets and one of those fatal.

There were five children admitted because of scooter, skateboard and roller blading accidents -- all without helmets on.

TCH pediatric surgeon Dr. Mark Mazziotti recommended, "Definitely wear a helmet if you're going to be driving anything that has wheels."

Mazziotti added that with kids out for the summer, he expects an increase in injuries.

He explained, "We see a lot of head injuries. Concussions are very common. Hopefully, it's not worse than that where they would require some surgical intervention."

He also said summer is high time for blunt abdominal injuries from kids taking nasty falls off bikes and other wheeled favorites.

Mazziotti told Local 2, "Summers are a very popular time for our orthopedic surgeons for fractures. Kids fall out on outstretched arms. There are wrist fractures, arm fractures, they may get run over by the vehicle they get on. They may get caught under a vehicle."

He said prevention can be as simple as a parent or guardian insisting on protective gear before anyone heads out of the house.

He advised, "When my son skateboards, he'll be wearing protective gear and I would recommend that for anybody else."

Mazziotti said if you can, convince your kids to wear long sleeves and long pants when out riding. He admitted that can be tough in our hot summers, but that along with elbow pads and knee pads can do a lot to protect our kids.

When it comes to proper helmet fitting, think snug, level and stable, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

It should fit snugly and level on your head. Adjust the chin strap and rear stabilizer if there's one, then shake your head violently to make sure it's on good and tight.