When Was The Last Time You Checked Out Your Helmet?
Most cyclists riding today know that a helmet is a smart idea — and for children, it’s the law..
And with good reason. Helmets can save your life in the event of a crash, and can help prevent long-lasting brain injuries that you otherwise might sustain during a collision or fall on your bike.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency, a properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.
If you’re in need of a new helmet — or you just want to make sure that your helmet is doing the best job it can to keep your brain safe — then read over this quick list of tips to make sure that you’ve got the best possible protection on your head when you get on your bike.
1. Don’t buy a helmet to “grow into”.
If you’re a parent buying a helmet for a child, it is important that the helmet fit today, not sometime in the future. If your child gets into a crash or has a fall, they need their helmet to be a perfect fit on the day it happens.
While it might seem frustrating to invest in multiple helmets over the course of a few years, just remember how valuable what you’re protecting is!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports:
“More children age 5 to 14 go to hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with bicycles than with any other sport. Many of these injuries involve the head. Helmet laws ensure the safety of our children.”
2. Make sure the helmet you are wearing is a perfect fit
Your helmet needs to fit correctly over your head, as well as under your chin and on the sides of your head around your ears. Any area that is overly loose, even if the other areas fit well, can reduce the ability of your helmet to adequately protect your head.
When you first put a helmet on, make sure it balances on your head. It should come down low over your forehead; ideally, there should be just one or two finger widths between your eyebrows and the bottom of your helmet.
Most new helmets come with pads that can help you create a perfect fit. Use these pads to find the most comfortable, secure fit that ensures you have balanced contact with the helmet all around the top and sides of your head. It should not rock backward or forward at all; if it does, you need to either add additional size padding to the inside or find a smaller helmet.
Once the helmet is well balanced on top of your head, you need to make sure the straps are fit correctly as well. You’ll start by centering the left buckle under your chin; adjust the straps from the back of the helmet until you can securely connect the right buckle with the left one directly under your chin.
Finally, pull the chin strap to ensure a tight fit. Open your mouth wide as if you are going to yawn; the helmet should pull down on your head. If you don’t feel an effect from opening your mouth, you need to tighten the chin strap until you do. You should be able to fit at most 1-2 fingers in between your chin and the strap.
3. Replace your helmet when it starts to wear out.
If your helmet is damaged — especially if you’ve been in a crash — you need to replace the helmet. Even if it looks okay, it can have structural damage that will prevent it from fully protecting your head in the event of a future collision or fall.
It’s better safe than sorry when it comes to your helmet. If you aren’t sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and replace your helmet too often, rather than take the risk of riding with an unsafe one.
Practice helmet safety — it could save your life!
A properly fitted helmet is essential to a safe and secure ride on your bike. Before you head out for your next ride, check in on your helmet and make sure it is providing you with all the safety you need, and don’t hesitate to get a replacement if you have any doubts. Investing in your helmet is investing in your health.