Elbow pads? Check. Shin guards? Check. Skates? Check. You’ve packed all the right equipment for your child and the trunk is full, but have you remembered the most important item – the helmet?
Why are helmets important?
Helmets can reduce the risk and severity of brain injury during a fall or hit to head and they work by absorbing the energy of the impact . Serious brain injuries may result when the head is unprotected. Wearing a helmet can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a traumatic injury to the head, which can result in long-term disabilities.
Protect yourself and your family: Wear the gear
When getting ready for a sport, make sure that the proper gear is worn, including the helmet. Each sport is different. Ensure that the appropriate helmet is worn for the activity (for example, a bike helmet is not a good substitute for a hockey helmet).
When buying a helmet, make sure it fits your child’s head
- Replace a helmet if it is more than five years old or if it is damaged in any way;
- Never use a helmet that has been involved in a collision or if you do not know its history;
- Make sure the helmet is properly fitted and adjusted: a helmet should fit squarely on top of the head;
- The chinstrap should be attached tightly and adjusted to allow for only one finger’s width between the chin and the strap;
- The distance between the eyebrows and the edge of the helmet should be no wider than one or two fingers;
- For bike helmets, adjust the slider on the side straps to form a “V “under the ears and slightly in front of the earlobes. Ensure that all straps are well aligned and not twisted.
Make sure your child wears a helmet during:
- Wheeled sports and activities (e.g. cycling, skateboarding, inline skating and scootering)
- Winter sports (e.g. skiing, snowboarding, toboganning)
- Organized sports (e.g. hockey, skating, football)
Set a good example by wearing one yourself ! It’s a no-brainer, helmets keep you in play.
To learn more about helmets, click here.
Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: january 2014, december 2015, June 2016