Head injuries are the No. 1 cause of serious injury and death to kids on bicycles. A head injury can permanently change the way a child walks, talks, plays and thinks.
The human skull is just one centimetre thick. A properly fitted helmet helps protect your brain from absorbing the force from a crash or a fall. A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, cutting the risk of serious head injury by up to 80 per cent. This means that four out of five brain injuries could be prevented if every cyclist wore a helmet.
Where can I find more evidence for helmet use?
For more evidence, visit the research section of our website to learn more about evaluation of helmet programs, including a new report by Cusimano et al. (2013) on the effectiveness of a bicycle helmet safety program for children, ThinkFirst Hard Heads. Download the report here.
Skateboarding, inline skating and scooter riding – why is a helmet important?
Head injuries occur while skateboarding, inline skating and scooter riding. A properly fitted helmet helps protect your brain the same way it does on a bicycle, dramatically decreasing the risk of serious injury.
Bike helmets can be used for inline skating and scooter riding. Skateboarding has its own kind of helmet.
Skateboarding helmets cover more of the back of the head and will protect against more than one crash. Because falls are common in skateboarding, these helmets are made of material that is specially designed to withstand multiple impacts on the same spot.
This means the helmet meets safety standards for more than one activity. Be sure the multi-sport helmet shows clearly what activity it has been tested for. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer.
Helmets come in a variety of sizes. There are special helmets for toddlers (under age five) that provide more protection at the back of the head. Some children may outgrow the "toddler" size helmet before age five and should use a bigger helmet.
Helmets come with extra padding that can be added to the inside of the helmet. Your child may need extra padding at the front or the back of the helmet so that it fits correctly.
Have your child shake her head from side to side and from front to back. The helmet should not move around when she shakes her head.
The helmet should cover the top of the forehead and should rest about two fingers' width above the eyebrows. The side straps should fit snugly around your child's ears in a "V"shape. The buckles on the side strap should fit right under the ear. Buckle the chin strap. Tighten it until you can fit onlyone finger between the strap and your child's chin.
Teach your child to check the helmet fit every time.
Bike helmets should be replaced after five years or a crash where the cyclist has hit their head.
After five years, the plastics of the helmet dry out and may become brittle with age. Also, older helmets may not meet current safety standards.
Bike helmets are designed to protect your head against only one crash. After a crash in which the cyclist has hit his or her head, the foam inside the helmet is compressed. The helmet should be replaced, even if it does not look damaged.
The life-span of a hockey helmet is not easy to determine, and there are no expiration gudelines for hockey helmets in Canada.
Hockey helmets are multi-impact helmets, meaning they are designed to protect against more than one impact, but must be replaced when you see damage.
The recommendation from CSA (Canadian Standards Association) is for consumers to exercise good judgement as to the suitability of a hockey helmet for play. Helmets that are cracked, have loose fitting or missing liner pieces, or that have been subjected to a severe blow should be replaced.
No, it is not a good idea to buy a helmet second-hand. You may not know if the helmet has been in a crash, and you may not know how old the helmet is.
No, your child should never use a helmet that has missing parts. Make sure that all of the straps, adjusters and fasteners on your child's helmet are secure and are in working order. If the sliders or buckles on the side straps are loose, the helmet will not fit correctly and should not be worn.
No, anything that could change the way your child's helmet fits should not be worn. Baseball hats, big hair clips and headphones should never be worn under a helmet. Ponytails should be worn low on the neck when wearing a helmet.
Every sticker has some type of adhesive to hold it on, and adhesives have solvents in them that aid the sticking process. These solvents may make the plastic of the helmet weak. Only allow your child to put stickers on her helmet if you know the adhesive is compatible with the plastic of the helmet. If you don't know, it's better not to put the stickers on the helmet.