The "Hard Head Patrol" is back this summer educating children of all ages on the importance of wearing a helmet when riding anything with wheels. The program sponsored by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh will begin this month and run through September.
Volunteers from Children's Hospital will patrol communities to promote helmet safety and talk to children who are not wearing helmets, or are wearing them incorrectly. If a child without a helmet is spotted, volunteers will provide them with a coupon for a free helmet and helmet-fitting and an upcoming public event. If a child is wearing a helmet, they will receive a Giant Eagle Cookie Card.
Chris Vitale, Manager for Injury Prevention at Children's Hospital, said children or parents should not be alarmed if approached. Volunteers will patrol in their own communities and are very easily identified. "They always have a big hard hat button on and their hospital ID tag, and everybody who works at Children's Hospital has all of the appropriate clearances," Vitale said.
Helmet fittings will be held throughout western Pennsylvania at local Kohl's department stores. The Kohl's Foundation will be providing the free helmets for those who attend the fittings.
Vitale said there will be several fittings this year and it is important to arrive on time or early. "Getting there earlier rather than later is usually better, but we may run out of a specific size, but we usually have enough to cover for each event," Vitale said.
Thousands of children are treated at Children's Hospital every summer for bike-related injuries and hundreds require admission. By wearing a helmet, more than 85% of injuries could be prevented.