From the desk of Benjamin Williams, CPNP
In a study of helmet fit and risk of head injury, children who wore poorly fitting helmets had nearly two times the risk of head injury in a crash compared with children who wore well-fitted helmets.
A well-fitted helmet should be snug on the head, with the chinstrap well tightened to prevent it from slipping off. The helmet should rest just above the eyebrows and not slide around on the head. Use the foam pads to raise or lower the helmet or pad the side space if needed. The straps of the helmet should be fitted to form a Y just under the ear of the child. The chin strap should be snug enough to pull down on the helmet when the child opens their mouth widely.
Parents and children should also ensure that the helmet is in good condition, with no cracks or damage. The outer shell keeps the helmet together if there is a double impact crash, for example, when a head or helmet is hit by a car then hits the ground. A cracked helmet is more likely to fail during the first hit. If the helmet breaks from the first hit it will not provide protection from the second. A crack in the outer shell tells us that the foam padding has been crushed making it worse at preventing a concussion or other serious head injury. Cracks and damage to the foam padding are not always seen so we avoid buying used helmets or wearing a helmet that has been hit in an accident (pubmed citation). If buying a used bike helmet, look for cracks in both the shell and the padding. If your child’s helmet has a crack replace it right away (pubmed citation). Links to local resources are below for low-cost new helmets and fittings. There is a link to search your current helmet to find out if it has been found unsafe and/or has been recalled.
The best way to encourage your child to wear a helmet is by wearing one yourself. Your child’s brain contains their personality, memories, and so much more. Protect it by using properly fitting helmets, in good condition, EVERY time.