Should bike helmets be compulsory?

As many of you know, my husband head-butted a transit van recently and sustained substantial head injuries; multiple-fractures to the skull and bleeding on the brain.  We’ve talked about it extensively and we both agree that in this case, a helmet would probably have helped due to the location of the injury and the speed at which the impact occurred.  For the record, he now owns a helmet.

Coincidently, when we were travelling into London to see the neurosurgeon, there was a heated debate in the editors section of the Metro about legislating bike helmets.  I personally don’t feel that the government should legislate this unless they can categorically link a reduction in injuries to wearing a helmet.

In countries, such as Holland, where everyone rides bikes and not many people wear helmets there isn’t an increase in head injuries.  Could this be down to better roads, more awareness of cyclists, dedicated cycle paths or cycling proficiency?  But in countries (Canada, Australia) that legislate wearing a helmet there hasn’t been a reduction in head injuries.

However, I would like to see more people opting to wear helmets on their own accord; especially in the UK where cyclists and motorists aggressively vie for space on our overcrowded narrow roads, with limited cycle paths.

Interestingly, the neurosurgeon said they never treat people for injuries who’ve been using Boris Bikes.  My mind boggles and I’d love to know the reason behind this, he didn’t know why either.  They go just as fast as other cyclists and rarely do you see people wearing helmets whilst riding them.  Do you think it’s because motorists assume that they aren’t as proficient and give them a wide birth or is it because traffic isn’t as free flowing in the city?

I appreciate, that there isn’t research to prove that bike helmets reduce the chance of head injuries, but I’ve never heard a good argument for not wearing one and I’ve also never heard of a helmet making it worse. So, why not wear one?  It seems like a no brainer to me and you can get one for less than £20.  I know many people are sceptical of the commercial forces behind such legislation.

I’d love your thoughts on this?  Do you wear a helmet?  If not, why?













Do as I say, not as I do!

I work in education as an IT consultant so I’m all too aware of the importance of e-safety when it comes to kids and the internet. Personally, I’m at the adage that I’d rather teach them how to deal with uncomfortable content or experiences rather than closeting them to it. Basically, teaching them what to do ‘when’ it happens, as it’s only a matter of time.

In all the years, I’ve been on the net I’ve rarely come across inappropriate content but it can easily happen. I won’t mention the time I tried to go to the Mr Men website, put the full stop in the wrong place and ended up in a gay men’s website. I have to admit there were some pretty hot men and wasn’t that bothered that I couldn’t get out of it! ;-)

However, it made me think of my own internet use. Here are a set of typical rules for kids and how I’ve broken them…..repeatedly!

Never give out personal information like your telephone number or home address
I don’t know how many times I’ve given people my mobile number over twitter. I hate seeing people struggle with anything to do with social media (twitter, Facebook, blogs) and not offer to help. And on several other occasions, normally to do with a bereavement, I’ve given my home address so people could pass on cards etc…

Never, under any circumstance agree to meet with anyone you meet on the internet
I’ve lost count of how many tweet-ups I’ve been on. If you’re wondering what a tweet up is it’s when you meet up with other twitterers. I’ve even been away for the weekend with a few and had one for Christmas last year!

Never send pictures
Well you just have to see my ‘recent images’ on my twitter profile to see how many times I’ve done this, most recently a photo of me with a glass of wine and a crash helmet. Back in the summer I also received loads of tweets saying they saw a photo of my daughter in face paints at Lollibop, a children’s festival in London, she’s a star and doesn’t know it.

Don’t respond to mean or abusive messages
On more than one occasion I have fired back and ‘F’ Bomb at people or engaged in some quite heated debates, but it’s usually followed by hitting the block button!

Stay out of chatrooms
Does twitter count? Ooops

Don’t share your passwords with anyone
I personally never share my own passwords with anyone, as I’m not that stupid, but I do have access to at least a half a dozen people’s blogs, twitter and Facebook accounts from when I’ve helped them out. I even have passwords for a few blue chip companies that I run twitter accounts for. I wonder if they’ve been changed recently. *runs off to check*.

This is tongue in cheek. However, the biggest difference here is that I’m an adult, not a child, and I have the reasoning abilities to work out the risk and would never put myself in unnecessary danger but a child might.

Nevertheless, as adults I think we really need to think about the messages we are sending out to our kids.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please do leave a comment.

Stranger Danger!

I’m not one for giving unsolicited parenting advice, as parenting is not my forte, but I genuinely believe this is very good advice.

My daughter is only 4; she knows our house number but not the name of the street, she can count to 30 and back but would never be able to recite my mobile number and on a good day I’m lucky if she knows my last name, as we have different last names. I’m adamant that I don’t want to frighten her into that thinking there’s a bogeyman around every corner waiting snatch her, but I do want to equip her to cope is she ever in a frightening situation. For example, if we get separated in a crowd.

So, when we go to busy events; Fireworks night, Winter Wonderland, turning on Christmas lights or travelling on the tube in rush hour, I always have a quick conversation with her in a blasé tone, to play down the likelihood that this will happen. I begin by giving her one of my business cards and asking her to put it in her pocket. Then I remind her that if ‘we get separated don’t panic/cry, find another mummy, tell her you can’t find your mummy and give her my business card’.  So many of us tell our kids to find a police officer, but when’s the last time you stumbled across a Bobby?

Nine times out of ten, most other mums will be completely safe, will do their utmost to help, will comfort her and reunite us in minutes.

Fingers crossed this never happens but it makes me feel a lot better that she at least knows what to do, heaven forbid it ever happens. But, we all know kids are bloody quick and it’s only a matter of time before it does.

Swimming is a life skill!

Swimming is a life skill and should not be optional.  According to ROSPA, on average 40-50 children drown per year in the UK.

I know someone who, when he was at primary school, hated swimming lessons, I don’t know if it was because he was self-conscious of his body or what, but his mother would wrote him a note so he did not have to participate in swimming lessons.  I don’t think she did him any favours.  As an adult he eventually enrolled in adult swimming classes but will never be fully at ease in the water, he looks like one of those water boatman, arms rigid and barely breaking the surface tension!

This is one of the biggest reasons we put Madame into swimming lessons at a very young age (4 months).  In the early days it was probably more of a social thing for me as a new mum but I’m now overjoyed that at 3.5 years old she can now swim 10m on her own.  This is one less worry for us now when we go on holiday or are around water as we know that if she falls in the water, heaven forbid we’re not around; she at least has a good chance of getting herself out.

Well done, Madame!  We’re very proud of you!






How to Drive in the Snow!

I’m by no means an expert on driving in the snow.  However, I’m Canadian and started driving at 16 (23 years ago) so I have a few years driving in treacherous weather.  I once called the AA and they said they’d get to me in 3 days!  This post is tempting fate and I’m sure I’ll end up pranging the car in the next few days so you can all point and laugh.

The thought of driving in the snow here in the UK doesn’t faze me, it’s the other people that, frankly, terrify me.  I’m often surprised when schools are closed and people can’t make it to work.  I know it’s not fair to compare Canada to the UK as you don’t have the infrastructure in place for a few days of snow but these short periods of weather seem to be getting longer and longer every year.

“Too many motorists simply jump in their cars on chilly mornings and treat adverse weather conditions as an inconvenience. The reality is that without proper preparation and a change in driving style, the consequences of snow and ice can be fatal.” from the BBC.

So, here are a few of my own tips to keep you a bit safer.

1.)    If you’re not confident or the thought of driving in the snow makes your blood pressure race then for the love of god walk away from the car, go back inside and make yourself a nice warm cuppa.  If you’re a nervous driver you won’t be able to react in time and will end up doing something stupid.  No journey is worth it.

2.)    DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use your brakes unless you absolutely have to.  Yes, this means that you have to drive at Grandma Speed but at least you’ll be able to stop when you need to.  If you are driving a manual use your gears.  If it is an automatic transmission then use the lower gears…those are denoted by the D1 and D2 on the column shift.

3.)    Do not speed

4.)    Just because you have a 4X4 it doesn’t mean you’re invincible so slow the f*ck down.  I don’t know how many times in Canada I’ve driven (smugly) past SUVs in the ditch in my little town car.

5.)    This one is actually in the road code, but most people seem to have forgotten.  If you are coming down a hill (icy or not) the person coming up the hill has the right of way.  If the person coming up the hill has to stop on an icy slope the laws of physics makes it nearly impossible for them to get going again.  If you are coming down the hill and unable to stop then you’re going to fast!

6.)    Use second gear when pulling out from a stop; it will prevent the wheels from spinning.

7.)    Try not to change gears when going up a hill.

8.)    If the worst happens and you start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator, DO NOT brake and steer in the direction of the skid.

Hope you have a safe journey!