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County Health Officials Issue Reminder On Helmet Safety

More than 200 people were injured riding bikes, scooters and skateboards in San Diego County this year. Most of them were kids, younger than 15. That's why hospitals and county health officials are urging holiday shoppers to add safety helmets to list Christmas list.

San Diego County health officials today reminded those giving bicycles, skateboards and scooters as presents during the holidays to include properly fitted helmets as part of the gift.

"During the past year, 222 children under the age of 15 were injured riding their bikes, scooter or skateboards in San Diego County,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "It's estimated that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by approximately 85 to 90 percent."

Of those who were hurt, 27 percent of bicyclists, 18 percent of skateboarders and 15 percent of scooter riders were wearing helmets at the time, she said.

Sue Cox, the director of Trauma Services for Rady Children's Hospital, said medics noted traumatic injuries to the head or neck in more than half the patients who weren't wearing helmets at the time of their injuries.

Getting the right kind of helmet is also important, said Robert Herber of the bicycling organization Racers and Chasers.

"A bicycling helmet is different from a skateboarding helmet, and you should always make sure the helmet fits properly,'' Herber said.

A bicycle helmet is designed to take extreme force from one object, such as a vehicle, and is designed to protect the top and upper part of the forehead and back of the head, he said. Skateboarding helmets are designed to protect the back of the head and take multiple smaller blows, but aren't sturdy enough to withstand a major collision.

The health officials also said skateboarders should be outfitted with wrist guards and pads for elbows and knees.

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