Protect your head when riding a bicycle

May 13, 2015 Providence Health Team

The spring weather gets people excited to dust off their two-wheelers and hit the road. Don’t forget to make safety a priority by wearing a helmet.Do I really need a helmet?

Yes, regardless of your age or what kind of bike you have. Many states have laws requiring bike helmets. But beyond an obligation to follow the rules, bike helmets help save lives. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

Wear it right

A bike helmet can’t do its job if you’re not wearing it right. In general, a good helmet fit should: 

  • Be snug and comfortable, not tight
  • Not shift more than an inch in any direction
  • Touch your head at all points (top, sides, back and forehead)
  • Be level on your head, not tilted
  • Not be able to be pulled off, no matter how hard you try

Most helmets offer three places to adjust the fit. The sizing wheel in the back lets you adjust the internal ring to fit snug around the forehead. Chinstraps should be tightened or loosened and extra internal pads help customize the fit.

Brighter is better

Hot pinks, greens and yellows aren’t just a flashy fashion statement – bright colors make it easier for cars to see you, which can help you stay safe during your ride.

Start with the sticker 

Make sure your helmet meets consumer standards by checking for a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certification sticker. By law, all helmets sold in the US are required to meet this standard. You’ll also find helmets endorsed by the nonprofit, Snell Foundation – but make sure the one you choose carries the CPSC certification, too.

Replace your helmet

Helmets with typical wear and tear usually need to be replaced every five years. Remember to immediately replace a damaged helmet. To prolong the life of your helmet, don’t store it in hot places like a car trunk or attic. The plastic in your helmet is vulnerable to heat damage.

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