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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hard-Hitting Helmet Truth

Helmet Facts and Laws

Helmets are optional. Yes, it is true. In some states, motorcycle, scooter and ATV riders can choose whether they want to use a helmet or not. But when you consider that helmets reduce deaths by 37% in accidents not involving an automobile, it becomes clear that putting a helmet on is the right choice! 

So, while it may be true that many states leave different options open to the rider, experts everywhere agree that by choosing a helmet, one chooses safety. In fact, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, helmet usage is the single most important factor in surviving a motorcycle crash. Helmets help prevent serious brain injury as well as other injuries to your eyes, nose, mouth and even your chin.  Helmets with protective face guards can shield the face from debris such as dirt, rocks. insects and even birds.  It’s no surprise that when riding a motorcycle, go kart, dirt bike, scooter or ATV, one should always sport head protection.

Important Safety Criteria to Consider

When searching for the perfect helmet; safety should be first.  Always look for the DOT (Department of Transportation) sticker which means the helmet meets strict safety standards.  Since 1974, all motorsport helmets sold in the U.S. must meet these guidelines.  Before a helmet can be approved it must undergo testing for impact, penetration, retention, and peripheral vision.  This ensures your helmet, when used, stored, and replaced in required time, will in fact keep you safe.

How to Choose the Proper Helmet

While color, design and price may take high priority in your mind, first consideration should be protection and comfort.  

There are three basic helmet protection types

     1.  Full-face helmet, usually comes with a face shield.  
     2.  A three-quarter, open face helmet.
     3.  The “shorty,” a half-helmet.

Once you’ve chosen the helmet type, it’s time to consider a comfortable fit.  Like any form of apparel, you must try on before you buy.  There’s more to a good fit than just buying a S,M,L or XL.  Also, some helmet sizes vary depending on the style, as do human heads - no two are the same.

Ways to Know Your Helmet is a Good Fit

  1. It should fit snugly and squarely on your head
  2. There shouldn’t be a gap between your temples and the brow pads.
  3. If the helmet has a neck roll, it shouldn’t push away from the back of your neck.
  4. On a full-face helmet, press on the chin piece to see if forces the helmet to touch your nose or chin.  If so, it will certainly become bothersome when windspeed and resistance are considered.  

Maintaining Your Helmet

Another important aspect of owning the proper safety equipment is practicing key maintenance of your helmet, as well as knowing when it needs to be replaced. 
To maintain the lifespan of your helmet:

  1. Keep away from flame, chemicals, fumes or other solvents that could deteriorate the foam lining of your helmet.
  2. Store your helmet in a safe area, not on the handle or seat where it can easily fall and damage.
  3. Do a safety check; look for hairline cracks or chips, and feel the durability of the foam, and check the chin strap for fraying or looseness.  Whenever in doubt, buy a new helmet.
  4. Keep a back-up helmet; in case you discover an issue, you’ll be covered.

Replacing Your Helmet:

     1. If it has absorbed shock from an accident.
     2. Has cracks or impact shock from neglect.
     3. The chin strap is frayed, worn or loosened.
     4. It has been 2-4 years since you’ve purchased a new helmet.
     5. Check the date on your helmet.  SInce 1974, all helmets are stamped with the month and date of                   

Helmets aren’t made of long-lasting materials.  Sweat, wear, damage and time are all contributing factors to deterioration.  They have an important wear-life that will protect your life when managed and maintained properly.  The bottom line is, a helmet will keep you safe and secure, if you keep it maintained and inspected.