How can I tell if a helmet will keep my child safe?
You should only buy a helmet that meets the bicycle helmet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Any helmet meeting these standards is labeled. Check the inside.
Do all helmets meet these standards?
All helmets manufactured or imported for use after March 1999 must comply with a mandatory safety standard issued by the CPSC.
Can other kinds of helmets be used for bicycling?
Each type of helmet is designed for protection in specific conditions and may not offer enough protection in bike crashes or falls. Bike helmets are very protective in head-first falls at fairly high speeds, and are light and well ventilated for comfort and acceptability. A multisport helmet, certified to meet the CPSC standard for bicycle helmets, also is acceptable.
Where can I get a helmet?
Helmets meeting CPSC safety standards are available at bicycle shops and at some discount, department, and toy stores in adult, children, and toddler’s sizes and styles. Do not resell, donate, or buy a used bike helmet because it may be too old to provide protection or may have been in a crash.
Which is better, hard-shell or soft-shell helmets?
The essential part of the helmet for impact protection is a thick layer of firm polystyrene, plastic foam, that crushes on impact, absorbing the force of the blow. All helmets require a chin strap to keep them in place in a crash.
Hard-shell helmets also have a hard outer shell of plastic or fiberglass that provides a shield against penetration by sharp objects and holds the polystyrene together if it cracks in a fall or crash. These helmets are more sturdy, but tend to be heavier and warmer than the soft-shell models.
Soft-shell helmets have no hard outer shell but are made of an extra-thick layer of polystyrene covered with a cloth cover or surface coating. The cloth cover is an essential part of many soft-shell helmets. If the helmet comes with a cover, the cover must always be worn to hold the helmet together if the polystyrene cracks on impact.
Both types of helmets meet CPSC standards; the main difference is style and comfort. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard shell versions but may be less durable.
How should a helmet fit?
A helmet should be worn squarely on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. If it is tipped back, it will not protect the forehead. The helmet fits well if it doesn’t move around on the head or slide down over the wearer’s eyes when pushed or pulled. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly.
Are there helmets for infants?
Yes. Many infant-sized helmets are of the soft-shell variety. They are light, an important consideration for small children whose necks may not be strong enough to comfortably hold a hard-shell helmet. Babies younger than 1 year have a relatively weak neck structure. Neither helmets nor bike traveling is recommended for them.
How long will a child’s helmet fit?
An infant’s or child’s helmet should fit for several years. Most models have removable fitting pads that can be replaced with thinner ones as the child’s head grows.
Can a helmet be reused after a crash?
In general, a helmet that has been through a serious fall or crash should be retired with gratitude. It has served its purpose and may not provide adequate protection in another crash. If you are uncertain whether the helmet is still usable, throw it away.
AAP recommended safety guidelines:
Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats: All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses: All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use a Forward-Facing Car Safety Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
Booster seats: All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Seat belts: When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.
All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the Rear Seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). http://www.aap.org
Babies under 6 months:
• Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats are still the top recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of suncreen to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.
For Young Children:
• Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15.
For Older Children:
• The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
• Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen – about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
• Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
• Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
• Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
• To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
• Insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective.
• The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. The benefits of DEET reach a peak at a concentration of 30 percent, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
• The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase.
For more information on DEET: http://www.aapnews.org/cgi/content/full/e200399v1