by Annabelle Loder
While visiting Toronto, I was standing at a busy cycling corridor in the downtown area observing bicyclists in action and I was shocked to find that one in three cyclists weren’t wearing helmets. Adults in Ontario are not required by law to wear helmets, but it’s one of the easiest precautionary steps to prevent detrimental head injuries, like concussions, that can have debilitating and life-altering symptoms that last for weeks, months or even years. Many parents wouldn’t dream of letting their children go out biking without a helmet, so why don’t adults take this basic preventative measure more seriously themselves?
Scouts Canada and Hydro One will be hosting a free Head Safe community event in Thunder Bay on November 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It features a variety of fun, age-appropriate, hands-on activities and games with educational foundations designed for youth ages five to 12 and their parents. Register at headsafethunderbay.eventbrite.ca
Head injuries are more common than you would think. Concussions – a traumatic brain injury caused by impact – affect an average of 150,000 Ontario residents each year and represent more than one in five Ontario student injuries treated by a doctor or nurse. Yet, according to the Government of Canada, half of Canadians have little or no knowledge about concussions.
I lead an active life and I’ve been fortunate to not experience a concussion myself. I have friends that haven’t been so lucky and I’ve seen firsthand how it can impact the quality of life. Even a minor concussion can impact the brain’s ability to function normally. When I think of how easily a concussion can be prevented in many situations by wearing a properly fitted helmet, I’m reminded of the importance of head safety awareness.
That’s why Scouts Canada and Hydro One, both leaders in safety and injury prevention, partnered to launch Head Safe – a free, hands-on educational program for youth and families aimed at raising awareness of how to prevent, identify and respond to head injuries. The program features free educational events taking place in five Ontario communities, and I urge families to attend or learn more about head safety at Scouts.ca/PlaySafe. Empowering kids to take ownership of their own safety at a young age will not only protect their developing brains but also form smart habits that they will carry through life.
It’s important for Canadians to understand the preventative impact of a properly fitted helmet, and to recognize helmets as a valuable lifesaving tool and not an inconvenience. To fit a helmet properly, use the 2V1 rule: the helmet should sit two fingers above the eyebrows, the straps should form a “V” under the ears, and only one finger should fit under the chin strap.
The easiest way to make a difference today is for people to educate themselves on which helmet matches their activity, properly fit it and then lead by example – make sure you wear a helmet when cycling, rollerblading or participating in adventurous activities, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.