Tips for Helmet Usage

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. represents people who have suffered serious head injuries as the result of other people’s negligence. Many such injuries are the result of impacts which occur during sports or other physical activities. One way to avoid or minimize head injuries is to wear helmets where appropriate, but it’s important to be helmet smart. Here are some tips for proper helmet usage.

Not all helmets are the same. Be sure to use a helmet that meets the standards for your particular activity because such helmets are designed to protect you from the kinds of impacts typically associated with that sport.

Bicycle and motorcycle helmets are required to meet mandatory federal safety standards while helmets for many other activities are covered by voluntary safety standards. Helmets that meet a particular standard should have a label or marking that states that they comply with that standard. Information regarding the applicable standards for various activities can be found on the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) website,  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Which Helmet for Which Activity?”

To properly protect the user, helmets should fit well and be properly worn. Helmets should fit comfortably and snugly on the head without moving in any direction. They should be worn so that they are level, neither tilted back nor pulled low over the forehead, and chin straps should be securely fastened. When buying a helmet for a child, bring the child with you to ensure a good fit.

Some helmets, such as bicycle helmets, should be replaced after a single impact, while other helmets, such as football helmets, are designed to provide protection for multiple impacts.    Damaged helmets should be replaced. Otherwise, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to how often helmets should be replaced. Absent any guidance from the manufacturer, 5 to 10 years may be a good rule of thumb. Replacing helmets on a regular basis minimizes the risk of material degradation over time, and allows you to benefit from advances in helmet design and materials.    

There are some activities where helmets should NOT be worn, for example, children should not wear helmets when using playgrounds or climbing trees because chin straps can get caught on trees or equipment and strangle the user. Helmets can also cause a child’s head to become trapped in an opening that would be large enough for the child to move through without the helmet.

For more information about proper helmet usage, see U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Which Helmet for Which Activity?”

If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of another, contact James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us through our website,  

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