How to Correctly Wear a Bicycle Helmet - and Why It is Important
For starters -- A simple testCheck your helmet position and fit by looking in a mirror. Gently rotate the helmet on your head, front to back, and side to side, noticing the skin in your brow area. If the fit is comfortable, and the skin moves with the helmet, you have a proper fit. If not, your helmet is too loose -- try the adjustment steps again.
The First Rule of Proper Fit: A bicycle helmet cannot protect what it doesn't cover!
Helmet is placed too far back, exposing the forehead. Straps are not secured correctly.
Helmet is placed too far forward, exposing the back of the head. Straps are not secured correctly.
COOL! -- Helmet is positioned correctly. Straps are buckled snugly under the chin.
Some Hard Facts
The facts are in:
- Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%.
- Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88%.
- It is estimated that 75% of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.
- Universal usage of helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent as much as 155 deaths and 45,000 head injuries per year in the United States.
PROVIDED THE HELMET FITS!!!
Give me more information!More and more people are heeding the sound advice of their physicians to stay "well" by feeding themselves a steady diet of healthy foods and exercising regularly. To take advantage of our usually wonderful weather and beautiful areas of open space, many people in our community choose bicycling. Every generation can be seen joining in the fun -- and sharing the benefits of biking -- whether it's a preschooler on his or her first tricycle, boys and girls heading off to school, a cycling group heading down Foothill Expressway or a family riding together on the weekend.
As bicyclists have literally "taken to the streets" (and elsewhere), along with the fun comes the responsibility to ride safely. Sharing the road with automobiles provides an obvious safety concern for any cyclist, but any "crash" or fall from a bicycle (regardless of cause) has the potential to cause injuries, the most serious of which are head injury, brain damage and death. Ongoing efforts to prevent such accidents include creating and maintaining safer bikes, educating riders and drivers alike, and better/safer road designs for everyone. But should a crash occur, the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death is a properly worn bicycle helmet.
While our community appears to wear helmets in greater numbers than others (attributed to mandatory helmet laws for those under 18, and higher than average income and educational levels), close observation of cyclists reveals two areas of concern regarding helmet usage in our area: the majority of helmets are not being worn correctly (therefore, they are unable to offer the rider full protection), and a disturbing number of parents ride without helmets (while insisting that their children DO!).
For full protection, a helmet needs to sit squarely on the head, with the front of the helmet low on the brow, protecting the forehead. Side straps should be fastened securely just below and forward of the ears. There should be no slack in the system when the chin strap is fastened. If a helmet is worn too loosely, it slides back (exposing the forehead) or falls off in a crash. A recent Harborview study on the protective effects of bicycle helmets determined that "cyclists who reported a poor fit were nearly twice as likely to suffer a head injury than cyclists whose helmets fit the best. Cyclists whose helmets came off during a crash were three times more likely to sustain a head injury than those whose helmets were snugly fastened at the time of the crash."
The Harborview study also found that "if parents wear helmets when they bicycle, then about 98% of kids wear helmets. If the parents don't wear helmets, it drops to 30%." When parents wear their own helmets -- with every ride -- this simple act sets a powerful example and directly affects the safety of their children.
Parents, Wear Your Helmets Too!!!In response to the research on "fit," some helmet manufacturers, in their newer models, have placed a retention system at the back of the helmet to prevent it from "rocking back" and exposing the forehead. Locking clips on the side straps are additional improvements designed to maintain the proper fit, offering greater protection. When in doubt about your family's helmets, visit your local, reputable bicycle shop. Experts there can assist you with fitting or, when necessary, direct you to a new helmet. If your old helmet cannot maintain its fit, it should be replaced. Schools often make helmets available through special purchase programs (often at much reduced costs -- quality varies).
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, along with Palo Alto Bicycles and the PTA Council of Palo Alto's Traffic Safety program have been focusing their community education efforts on the importance of proper helmet fit. At large community events, such as the Los Altos Art & Wine Festival and Palo Alto's May Fete Parade, these organizations offered free helmet-fitting and provided bike-safety information, reflective stickers and other giveaways in an effort to bring this important information to light. There are many local businesses and organizations dedicated to providing bike-safety education to schools and other groups.
Call Becky Beacom, Manager of Health Education (PAMF) at 650-853-4733.
Be Safe! Be Seen! Have Fun!!
What others are saying and some Web sites to check
Here are some Web sites that might be useful to look at for more information.
CDC: Bicycle Related Injuries, Accessed July 2007
From the BHSI Web site: Insist on a CPSC Helmet! (December 16, 1998) Helmets are now shipping that meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission's new bicycle helmet standard. They pass tests that are a little tougher than the ASTM helmets on the 1998 market, and offer slightly improved coverage. Since all helmets made for the U.S. market after March 10, 1999, must by law meet the CPSC standard, a helmet that does not meet it will be outdated soon. The old ASTM helmets should be heavily discounted in 1999. Consumers should look for a sticker inside the helmet that says the helmet meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. If it lacks the sticker, it almost certainly does not meet the standard, no matter what a salesman may tell you!, Accessed July 2007
Helmet Stickers: A good idea or no? http://www.helmets.org/stickers.htm, Accessed January 2008.