Kathy Churchman helps a young visitor get fitted for a bike helmet at Alton Memorial Hospital’s 2013 Family Safety Fest. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, May 3. Call 1-800-392-0936 to register.
ALTON — Safety and fun are the focus of Alton Memorial Hospital’s eighth annual Family Health Fest Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the back parking lot at AMH (between the Medical Office Buildings).
The event continues to grow each year. On a glorious spring day last year, close to 600 people attended the event and some 300 free bike helmets were given out.
The helmets are available to pre-registered children ages 4 through those completing eighth grade this year, with helmets provided by the Helmets First organization led by Dr. Joseph Cangas, a pediatrician from Columbia, Ill. Helmet supplies are limited, so appointments must be made in advance by calling 1-800-392-0936. Volunteers will also be on hand to make sure the helmets are correctly fitted.
Carefree bike riding is a rite of passage in childhood — if it’s done safely. Among Illinois children age 5 to 14 who were admitted to emergency rooms for bike injuries last year, 40 percent had injuries to their head or neck.
That’s why wearing helmets while riding a bicycle is so important, said Dr. Cangas, who started the nonprofit Helmets First organization along with a website to promote bike safety (www.helmetsfirst.com).
“As a pediatrician, I’ve seen everything from scalp lacerations requiring staples to stays in the intensive care unit that have led to total devastation due to kids in bike accidents not wearing a helmet,” said Cangas, also known as the “Helmet Doctor.”
He said that children should never get on a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates without a helmet.
“As soon as kids are riding anything, they should put on a helmet, even if they’re riding with parents or in pull carts,” Cangas said. “Even a spill on a tricycle can lead to a devastating injury. But 85 percent of all bicycle-related head injuries could be prevented by a helmet. I advise parents to put the bike on a hook and only take it down once the helmet is on.”
Other features of the Family Safety Fest are scheduled to include:
- A free hot dog lunch served by the Bank of Edwardsville beginning at 11 a.m.
- Piasa Martial Arts demonstration at 10:30 a.m.
- The Alton Fire Department Smokehouse.
- ID kits based on dental impressions from the Lewis and Clark Community College School of Dental Hygiene.
- The Illinois State Police rollover vehicle, which graphically shows what can happen to passengers when a car turns over on the highway.
- Healthy teeth information and giveaways from the SIUE School of Dental Medicine.
- A drawing for four tickets to the Cardinals-Pirates game on July 9, courtesy of 1st MidAmerica Credit Union.
- A “kids copter” from St. Louis Children’s Hospital landing on the AMH helipad, weather permitting.
Register in advance for the Family Safety Fest (everyone who is attending) and to make an appointment for a free bike helmet (ages 4 through eighth grade) by calling 800-392-0936. In case of rain, the event will be moved inside to the hospital’s Beeby Wing lobby and the cafeteria. Some attractions such as the rollover vehicle, the smokehouse and helicopter would be canceled, but most other events including the helmet giveaway can be done indoors.