Do’s and Don’ts of Helmet Safety

What you need to know to about choosing the right helmet for your child

Helmet safety for kids
Helmet safety for kids

Helmet usage has come a long way in the past 20 years; gone are the days of helmetless children riding bikes, skating or skiing. Although great strides in safety have been made, there is still a long road ahead. According to the Standards Council of Canada, other than bicycle riding and ice hockey, helmets are not required to meet any specific safety standards. For this reason it is of particular importance that parents are vigilant in selecting helmets for their children. With proper head protection the number of head injuries has decreased in cyclists from 88 percent to 45 percent; in snowboarding, the injuries have decreased by 50 percent; and in ice hockey the number of eye injuries have gone from a whopping 290 per year, down to 10 (Standards Council of Canada). Here are some of the most important aspects to consider for helmet safety.

DO lookfor certification by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Snell, or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

DO NOT assume a helmet is appropriate for more than one activity. For example, bicycle helmets are not acceptable when using a skateboard. Helmets are created differently for their specific activities. Skateboarding helmets cover more of the back of the head, than to bike helmets, since skateboarders more likely to hit the backs of their head.

DO check the helmet to see which activities it is suitable for. Each helmet should be clearly labelled with activities they are designed for.

DO NOT purchase a helmet based on a child’s age alone, it is extremely important to have the child try on a helmet. Test out the helmet; ensure the helmet covers the top of the forehead, fits snuggly and has space for only one finger between the strap and the chin when fastened.

DO teach you child to check the fit of the helmet each time it is used.

DO NOT wear hats, headphones, or large hair accessories under the helmet; this will affect the fit, and the helmets effectiveness.

DO replace a helmet at least every five years, regardless of whether it still fits. As equipment ages the composition may begin to harden, or even crack.

DO NOT buy second-hand helmets, while it may appear in good condition, the age may not be known. Safety standards are consistently improving, it is important to have up-to-date equipment.  

DO call the manufacturer if you have any questions involving standards, multi-sport effectiveness or concerns.

DO set a good example and wear helmets during physical activities. Not only will you be practicing what you preach, but also keeping yourself safe.

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