Walt Disney Elementary School student Zebedee Baumbach, 10, recently learned some important lessons on proper bicycle helmet use from Anaheim Fire & Rescue.
He and about a hundred peers from his elementary school, as well as Albert Schweitzer Elementary School in Anaheim, listened excitedly as AFR Community Engagement Specialist Natali Rudometkin led a talk for the agency’s Wear Your Helmet Like a Pro program Feb. 16 at Haskett Public Library in Anaheim.
“The statistics show that most severe head injuries caused when on a bike or a scooter would be prevented if a helmet had been worn,” said AFR Community Engagement Manager Elsa Covarrubias.
The presentation was part of a partnership with Anaheim Public Libraries’ The Big Read program, highlighting Ray Bradbury’s classic book about a firefighter in a dystopian fictional future, “Fahrenheit 451,” as the theme for February.
Wearing the plastic, red firefighter helmets handed out to the students at the beginning of the presentation, the children sat in the library’s reading room enthusiastically answering Rudometkin’s questions about helmet safety. The students also saw a short video featuring hockey players, baseball players and firefighters – the “pros” – wearing their helmets.
“During the summer time, how many of you guys been on a scooter?” Rudometkin asked.
She was answered with raised hands.
To demonstrate what can happen when helmets aren’t worn, Rudometkin brought out a Barbie – Rebecca. Rudometkin demonstrated Rebecca riding her bike and then falling over.
“She didn’t have her helmet, so she ended up hitting her head,” she said.
Then she asked the students what’s inside our heads?
“Brain!” they shouted.
Rudometkin held up an egg to represent to the students the human head. She asked them whether they thought the inside of their head would be protected if they fell while riding without a helmet. Then she dropped the egg on the demonstration table, and it broke.
Point made, she asked the students if they wore their helmets, would they be protected?
“Yes!” was the response.
She called up some student volunteers to demonstrate how the helmet should fit on the head – not too big or too small – strapped on and adjusted with padding.
Rudometkin brought out a foam-wrapped egg, which she dropped on carpeted floor. It bounced and did not break.
“If you happen to fall and you don’t have a helmet, three times out of four, you can get a very bad injury,” she said.
She then asked the students, how many did not own a helmet? More than half raised their hands.
Rudometkin told the students that not only would they have the opportunity to win a helmet that day, but if they didn’t win a helmet, they could go to any Anaheim fire station and ask for a free one.
To enter for a chance to win a helmet during the presentation, the students had to promise to wear their helmets like pros and sign a poster promising to do the same. They spun a wheel for their chance to win. About 20 bicycle helmets were given away, according to Rudometkin.
Covarrubias said the agency is able to give the helmets to area students with the help of community donations that allow for their purchase. The agency also partners with the Anaheim Ducks, the Angels and Disneyland to develop the marketing for the Wear Your Helmet Like A Pro program.
At the beginning of the school year, AFR offers helmets and educational materials to schools for their students.
“We partner up with all of the elementary schools in Anaheim,” Covarrubias said.