Release date: February 22, 1999
Release number: 99-065

Release Details

After the strangulation death of a 3-year old Pennsylvania boy, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that children should not wear bike helmets when playing on playground equipment. The boy died February 4 when his bicycle helmet became wedged as he apparently tried to slide through a small opening on the playground equipment near his home. CPSC is aware of a second strangulation death that occurred in 1997 when a 7-year old girl in Canada became entrapped in an opening on a playground structure. Both victims were wearing a bicycle helmet during play and died due to hanging from the helmet strap.

CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "Children should always wear a helmet while riding their bikes. Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent in the event of a crash. But when a child gets off the bike, take off the helmet. There is a hidden hazard of strangulation if a child wears a helmet while playing on playground equipment."

In addition to the deaths, CPSC also has reports of four cases in the United States where no injury occurred. In two of these cases, the children were climbing trees, and in the other two cases, the children were on playground equipment.

Copies of CPSC's Bike Helmet Safety Alert can be obtained through CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or it can be viewed on CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5121.html.