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Ready, fit, GO! Helmet Safety

Ready, fit, GO! Helmet Safety

The weather is finally nice again and that means many of us are spending more and more time outside on our bikes, scooters, roller skates, roller blades, or skateboards. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children over 5 and young adults have the highest rate of bicycle-related injuries seen in the emergency room.  Just as we buckle up our seat belts and car seats in the car, it is imperative that we take the time to protect our brains by ensuring our children (and ourselves) are buckling on a helmet.  By wearing a helmet, your child’s risk of serious head and face injury can be significantly decreased, but a helmet can only protect us if it fits correctly. 


Getting the right helmet:

  • Start by measuring your child’s head to determine size.  This can be done by using a flat tape measurer or piece of string and measuring the largest part of the head from about one inch above the eyebrows. The helmet should fit snuglyIt is important to try on a variety of sizes to find one that feels right, keeping in mind different brands may fit slightly differently.  Choose a hairstyle your child commonly wears when trying on helmets to ensure it fits correctly.
  • Once you find the perfect fit, it is time to ensure appropriate position on the head. The helmet should be level on your child’s head and low on their forehead – 1-2 fingertips above the eyebrow.  If the helmet is rocking back and forth and exposing the forehead, it is not fitted correctly.
helmet fit 1


  • Side straps may also need to be adjusted to form a “Y” or a “V” shape around the ears, sliding adjusters can be positioned or locked just below the ear lobe. Straps should be flat against the head.
helmet fit 2


  • The chin strap should buckle just below the chin and should be tightened to allow one or two fingers under the strap; anymore space means it needs to be tightened.
helmet fit 3
  • Ready to test? Once you’ve fit the helmet correctly, ask your child to open their mouth wide. The helmet should pull down on their head. Lastly, ensure your child can hear and see safely before taking off.


Children can often be resistant to these safety measures, but there are ways to encourage children of all ages to want to wear their helmets. The best thing we can do for our children is to model the good behavior, making sure we are always wearing a helmet that fits correctly.  Allow your child to help pick out their helmet color or character, or let them decorate it with stickers or drawings; if they like their helmet they will be more inclined to wear it.  If you are still having difficulty with helmet fit, stop by your local bike store to see if they have padding inserts or recommendations to ensure proper fit without sacrificing safety.


When to replace a helmet

If a helmet is cracked or has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced. Any damage to the helmet can reduce or even eliminate its ability to prevent serious head injuries. This is important to remember if you are considering a used helmet, or even passing down a helmet from an older sibling. Make sure you always inspect helmets for any visible damage before use.


Pick the right helmet for your activity!

Wheeled sports aren’t the only time we should remember to protect our brains.  If you and your children participate in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding or ice skating, ensure you have the correct helmet for your activity as well as the correct fit. If your children participate in sports that require helmets, check out the CDC’s site for sports specific helmet recommendations: