Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
Bicycle Safety and Helmet Safety

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US Army First Aid Manual
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Appendix F: Glossary

Survive Outdoors visitors will not find bicycle safety as relating to rules of the road addressed here. For those interested in information regarding riding bikes in urban areas, please go to your nearest DMV, where you can pick up a free copy of Rules of the Road for Bicyclists.

Below are some basic, as we like to call them, “no-brainers” in bicycle safety:

  1. Make sure there is air in the tires of your bicycle.
  2. Make sure that all working parts are well oiled, and screws and bolts are tightened down.
  3. Make sure all spokes are intact.
  4. Make sure the seat is comfortable and the right height, and that the bicycle handlebars are not loose.
  5. When biking in the back country, or riding trails at your local forest preserves, make sure you have a water bottle with you, especially in case you have an accident and find yourself injured and unable to walk. Please refer to the Survive Outdoor section on Getting Lost and Getting Found for more information on survival techniques.

Children and adults alike should wear elbow and knee pads, as when falling off a bike, these are the sites that are frequently injured. Since the skin does not provide much padding in those locations, fractures and dislocations are very common. Elbow and kneepads are definitely beneficial from a safety standpoint, saving in potential hospital bills down the road. Although somewhat uncomfortable, it is certainly worth the precaution.

Bicycle Helmet Safety

In many states, the law requires the use of bicycle helmets. However there are some states that do not require helmets, which is quite surprising to Survive Outdoors. A few statistics from www.bhsi.org, an excellent website, that addresses bicycle helmet safety in much more detail than we have here:

  1. Approximately 1:8 bicycle accidents result in brain injuries.
  2. Approximately 800 people per year die from bicycle accidents.
  3. Of the 540,000 bicycle accidents seen in the emergency room, 67,000 of those are head injuries.

A helmet is of minimal cost compared to the cost of a bicycle, but can help tremendously in preventing most head injuries. Of course, a small head laceration sustained by a cyclist wearing a helmet can be repaired quite easily when compared to intra-cranial bleeding sustained by a cyclist without a helmet.

Many individuals believe that accidents only happen to the “other guy.” Subsequently, a major attitude shift must occur with regard to wearing helmets, and the best way for this to occur is by educating the public with regard to bicycle safety issues.

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