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Protect your Head: Wear a Helmet

To reduce injuries, Toronto Paramedic Services encourages riders of all ages to use helmets. Children up to the age of 18 are required by law to wear a helmet. Studies have shown that using a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries by up to 85%. Even if you just ride on bike paths or for a short distance, be sure to put on your helmet before you go. You don’t have to be going fast or far to risk serious head injuries.

Buy a helmet that bears a label saying it meets the Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA D113.2 M89; or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z90.40 1984; the Snell Memorial Foundation standard B 90,B 90S, N 94, or B 95; the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F 1447 93 or F 1447 94.

In order for a helmet to work properly, it must fit properly. Here is how to properly fit a helmet:

  • A helmet should fit snugly on the top of the head and not obstruct your field of vision. Do not buy a helmet that you want your child to grow into, it must fit properly every time they use it. Most helmets come with adjustable padding to achieve the best fit. The front of the helmet should be about two finger widths above the eyebrows.
  • The “V” part of the chin straps should fit snugly with the “V” coming together right below the earlobe.
    You should be able to fit one finger between the chin strap and under the chin. Always wear the helmet with the chin strap firmly buckled. Make sure the chin strap fits securely and that the buckle stays fastened to provide impact protection. No combination of twisting or pulling should remove the helmet from the head or loosen the buckle on the strap.
  • The best way to test your helmet is to shake your head forward and back. The helmet should stay in place. Try another helmet size or design if simple hand pressure shifts the helmet significantly on your head.

Do not use a helmet after it has been involved in an accident. Damage to the helmet may not be visible to an untrained eye. Even very small cracks in the helmet may greatly reduce a helmet’s effectiveness in preventing injury. Either destroy the helmet and get a new one or have it inspected by the manufacturer. The manufacturer will tell you if the helmet needs to be replaced.

Children must wear a bicycle helmet at all times while riding a bicycle.

Try these tips to get your child to always wear a helmet:

  • Let your child help pick out the helmet. Help your child practise putting on the helmet until he or she can buckle the straps easily.
  • Always insist your child wear the helmet. Make it a rule: no helmet, no ride. Anyone can get hurt anywhere at any time.
  • When you ride together, wear your own helmet. Your own good example can make a big difference in encouraging your child to wear one.
  • Praise your child each time he/she wears it. Begin the helmet habit with the first tricycle or bicycle. Then it will become a habit as your child grows.
  • Encourage other parents to buy helmets for their children. Making helmets common is the best way to decrease the feeling of being “different”.

Helmets today come in many colours and designs. Find one you like so you will wear it.

Today’s bicycle helmets only weigh about a half a pound and some helmets cost $20 or less. Helmets have lots of openings for air to pass through and they are not any hotter than having your head exposed to the sun while riding. Finally, with a helmet you will be more visible, and car drivers will probably respect you more and give you more room on the road because of it.