Last Friday after a dinner I had a text message asking where I had stashed our sunscreen from about half-an-hour earlier. I made a guess to where it might be, and he replied: "In ER."
Wow. That much of a sunscreen emergency at 9pm? No, turns out my son wiped out on his long board and had two parallel lacerations in his scalp. I had the pleasure of pulling 12 staples out tonight. There is still one stitch in there somewhere, but we won't find it until he shampoos some scabby stuff out of his hair.
So he has sworn to wear a helmet when he skates, but last night he went out on a bicycle sans head gear. Since he is an engineering major and quite data-driven, I have pulled the following data from a helmet data compilation site:
- Annually, 196 children younger than age 15 die from bicycle-related injuries. Approximately 8,900 additional children were hospitalized for bicycle-related injuries, and another 344,000 were treated and released in emergency departments. Bicycle helmets prevent 52 to 60 percent of bike-related head injury deaths (for all ages), as well as an estimated 68 to 85 percent of nonfatal head and scalp injuries, and 65 percent of upper and middle face injuries, even when misuse is considered. Thus, bicycle helmets significantly reduce the total medical costs for bike-related head injuries.
- Every $10 bike helmet generates $570 in benefits to society, including $50 in medical costs, $140 in future earnings and other tangible resources, and $380 in quality of life costs.
- In 1991, bicycle crashes to children ages 4 to 15 caused 52,000 nonfatal head injuries and 93,000 nonfatal face scalp injuries. Lifetime medical payments for these injuries will approach $394 million. If 85 percent of all child cyclists wore helmets in 1 year, the lifetime medical cost savings would total $197 to $256 million.
- Universal bike helmet use by children aged 0 to 14 would prevent 212 to 294 deaths and 382,000 to 529,000 bicycle-related injuries annually.
The "typical" bicyclist killed on our roads would be a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car. Like my son yesterday.
So wear your damn helmet. It could save you from death or a major brain injury. You've already learned one lesson the hard way; please don't chance a more serious injury.
That goes for the rest of you skaters and bike douches as well!