On the lookout for: Kids wearing helmets
This month marks the return of the Hard Head Patrol Program, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s annual community-based program aimed at educating children of all ages on the importance of wearing helmets while riding anything on wheels.
Running through September, trained Children’s volunteers will patrol communities in western Pennsylvania to raise awareness of helmet safety and identify kids who aren’t wearing helmets or who aren’t wearing them properly while riding on anything with wheels, including bicycles, scooters and skateboards. When volunteers see kids without helmets, the kids will be given coupons for free helmets and invited to attend a free helmet-fitting event sponsored by Children’s Hospital. Kids who are wearing helmets will be rewarded with a free Cookie Card from Giant Eagle.
Brain injuries often are life-threatening and life-changing, yet only 20 percent of children admitted to Children’s for bike injuries were wearing helmets when the injury occurred. By reinforcing the importance of helmets and educating our children, more than 85 percent of head injuries could be prevented.
“It is our mission to help educate parents and children in the community that the very simple act of wearing a helmet can save lives,” said Barbara A. Gaines, M.D., director of Trauma and Injury Prevention at Children’s. “We are seeing more and more children each year come in with injuries from not wearing a helmet, so the importance of this program is vital to keeping our children safe for years to come.”
Thousands of children treated at Children’s Hospital every summer are injured riding bicycles, scooters, skateboards and other wheeled devices, and hundreds sustain injuries serious enough to require admission. In 2011, 177 children were admitted for bicycle-related injuries, and 80 percent were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Last year, more than 80 certified Hard Head Patrol volunteers scoured across more than 100 communities. They gave away approximately 2,000 free Giant Eagle Cookie Cards as rewards and fit and supplied 3,000 helmets to children free of charge.
Children’s Hospital will hold eight helmet fittings this summer at various locations throughout western Pennsylvania where families and children can redeem coupons for free helmets that will be properly fitted by trained Children’s representatives. The first fitting is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 13, at the Kohl’s Department Store in Robinson Crossroads Shopping Center in Pittsburgh.
The Hard Head Patrol Program has been generously sponsored by the Kohl’s Foundation as part of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids® program, which supports injury prevention programs at Children’s through the hospital’s Kohl’s Safety Center. For a complete list of fitting times, dates and locations, as well as more information on the Hard Head Patrol, visit Children’s Hospital’s website at www.chp.edu or call 412-692-8229.