Yeah, of course they do, you probably said to yourself. Yet are you routinely wearing one? There are good reasons to wear yours on every trip. The first one is that wearing it can reduce your risk of a head injury by as much as 85%.
Another good reason to wear your helmet whenever you’re riding is to model the behavior for your kids. Kids are especially vulnerable to head injuries, and they are more likely to wear their helmets if they see you wearing yours.
Bike accidents are, unfortunately, quite common. Every year in the U.S., according to the Cleveland Clinic, around 800 bikers are killed and another 500,000 are injured seriously enough to need emergency room treatment. Among those who die, about two-thirds received injuries to the head and face.
How do I pick a safe bike helmet?
Since 1999, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has required a CPSC sticker inside bike helmets that have been tested to provide a high degree or protection upon impact. Helmets must meet the CPSC’s standards in order to be sold in the U.S. If you’re looking at an older helmet, you might see “ASTM,” “ANSI” or “Snell” printed on a sticker or inside the helmet. These are also acceptable standards, although you should be cautious about choosing a helmet manufactured so long ago.
A used helmet isn’t necessarily dangerous, but you should be aware that there could be cracks you can’t see. You should never use a helmet that has been broken, cracked or involved in a crash.
Beyond meeting CPSC standards, your helmet should fit properly:
- With the chin strap buckled, the helmet should be snug but comfortable. It shouldn’t easily move from side to side or front to back.
- It should sit level on your head, not tilted back, and rest low on your forehead. The bottom edge should be only one or two finger widths above your eyebrow. You can also check this with your eyes – you should be able to see the edge of the helmet when you look upwards.
- The straps should be even and snug against the head and should create a “Y” that comes together at the bottom of your earlobe.
- The chin strap, when buckled, should only give enough room for a single finger to be inserted between it and the chin. You should be able to feel the helmet pulling down on your head if you open your mouth.
- You should not be able to twist or pull the helmet free from your head once it is buckled.
If your helmet doesn’t fit right, it may not be as effective at protecting your head. If you can’t get your helmet to fit as described above, you can often adjust the pads. If not, try another helmet. Salespeople at bike shops are often trained on how to properly fit bike helmets.
How do I encourage my kids to wear bike helmets?
As we mentioned, it’s crucial to be a good role model and wear your helmet every time you ride.
Start the helmet habit early in kids. Even those riding tricycles or bikes with training wheels should wear helmets.
Let your child choose from a group of helmets that you have tested to fit properly. This gives them a sense of ownership and connection to the helmet. Let them decorate it with paint or stickers.
We wish you a summer full of fun, healthy bike riding. Take care on the roads!