In a campaign to keep kids safe while they play, Providence Medical Center in Medford is selling helmets at a fraction of what they would cost in a store.

In a campaign to keep kids safe while they play, Providence Medical Center in Medford is selling helmets at a fraction of what they would cost in a store.

Bike helmets are priced at $10, skateboarding/skating helmets at $15 and equestrian helmets at $20.

With the season for outdoor activities about to arrive in the Rogue Valley, the timing couldn't be better.

"Avoidable head injuries are fairly frequent, especially during the summer," said Bob Galey, director of emergency services at Providence.

The helmets are brand new and high quality, said Galey. The hospital is offering them at cost, making no profit from the sales, he said.

"We're not doing this to make money," he said. "We're doing it so people won't need an emergency room visit."

Although anyone who needs a helmet may buy one, kids are the primary focus of the campaign. Therefore, the helmets must have passed the test for not being geeky, right?

"Absolutely," said Galey. "We have a good selection of styles and colors to satisfy kids."

As a bonus, kids get to find out their head size, as a helmet fitting is included.

"Helmets don't do any good unless they fit properly," said Galey. "They could slip off while the child is falling."

Helmets should sit snugly, and they should be buckled down, said Galey. Kids will be shown how to adjust the straps on the chin and around the ears, he said.

If your child already has a helmet, but it has absorbed a blow, it should be replaced, Galey advised. "If it has a crack, or its structure has been compromised, it is no longer effective," he said.

The helmets are available at the Emergency Department at Providence. An appointment isn't necessary, though parents are encouraged to call ahead at 732-6400, because the department does get very busy at times.

Fire District #3 offers an even sweeter deal, giving helmets away for free at its fire stations in Central Point, White City and Eagle Point. The campaign is limited to bike helmets only.

According to spokesperson Michelle Fuss, the fire department has a small budget of about $700 for the purchase of helmets, so anyone interested in receiving one should act quickly.

The helmet sales at Providence are sponsored by Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, a program that originated in Oregon in 1986. According to the TNTT Web site, the program owes its existence to three trauma nurses who decided to do something to decrease the number of kids who were brought into the state's trauma centers.

Through school programs, safety fairs and community events, TNTT educates kids about making safe choices in order to prevent senseless injuries.

Paul Hadella is a freelance writer living in Talent. Reach him at talenthouse@charter.net.