DEAR ABBY: Something happened yesterday that makes me want to stress the importance of bicycle helmets, even on toddlers who ride little ride-on toys. My 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were riding their bikes on our sidewalk when my son accidentally bumped into the back of his sister's bike. The bike slid out from under her and she fell backward, hitting her head on the concrete. Fortunately she was wearing a helmet and was not injured, but I shudder to think what might have happened had she not been wearing one.
I always thought I was a little overprotective making my young children wear helmets when I didn't think they could get seriously injured in a fall from such a small vehicle. But I felt it was a good habit to get into for when they were older.
Now I'm grateful I listened to that "sixth sense" and avoided what could have been a serious head injury. We were lucky we were able to spend the rest of my husband's birthday having fun instead of sitting in the emergency room. I hope this letter will make parents think twice before letting their children, regardless of age, ride without a helmet. -- VIRGINIA BRIGGS, LEVITTOWN, PA.
DEAR VIRGINIA: You are a wise and conscientious mother for realizing that an innocent bike ride can be dangerous for children who aren't wearing bicycle helmets. Helmets can prevent an estimated 85 percent of serious head injuries, and greatly reduce the risk of severe brain injury that can result in death. However, even a minor brain injury can lead to problems with learning and memory.
There are many good helmets on the market today. The easiest way to find one that is well made and reliable is to look for the "SNELL" certification sticker. Helmet models carrying that decal have met rigorous standards in tests performed by the Snell Foundation. Based on three decades of research in the United States and England, a Snell-certified helmet is one of the best.
Bicycle helmets save lives. There's no better reason to insist that your child wears one.
P.S. Helmets are also essential safety gear for other sports such as inline skating, etc.
DEAR ABBY: I've got a big problem. It started when my friend "Raymondo" got a divorce and left for New York with his new wife and his daughter last spring. We kept in touch with them for a while, and Raymondo kept saying he didn't like living up north and he wanted to return.
Finally he left his new wife and returned with his daughter. However, he had no place to live because he has no family here in the United States, and his former wife's family wanted no part of him.
We told Raymondo he could stay with us until he found a job and earned enough money to rent an apartment. A month passed. Two months.
Abby, he is still here with us, using our water and electricity and eating our food. He doesn't pay for anything. How can we tell Raymondo to leave? -- FERNANDO IN FLORIDA
DEAR FERNANDO: Tell him in Spanish. If that doesn't work, tell him in English. But whatever language you use, "talk turkey" by making it clear that he has worn out his welcome and he must be out within two weeks. Then stand by your decision.
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