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Bike Helmets – Tips for Finding the Best Fit
As one of the 29 states that do not have a bicycle helmet law, it’s up to Minnesotans to research the facts, take responsibility, and decide whether or not to wear a helmet when bicycling.
A quick look at some of the statistics may be all you need to make your decision:
According to the Minnesota Safety Council (MSC), over 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths involve head injuries.
85% of head injury risk could be avoided if a helmet is worn according Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates.
For those who do decide to wear a bicycle helmet, here are some guidelines for choosing the proper fit for you:
BIKE HELMETS: PROPER FIT AND ADJUSTMENT
Just as improper use of a safety belt or children’s car seat can impair its effectiveness, a helmet can be rendered useless if worn or chosen incorrectly. For this reason, choosing the right helmet is vital to your protection.
Colors: Look for highly visible color that you feel but one that you will be sure to wear.
Ventilation: Helmets with more vents are better – the more airflow you get, the more likely you’ll be to wear it. Some helmets are vented so well, it can actually be cooler than riding with no helmet at all
Fit: The best fit means snug, but not tight, and covering the largest area possible (including your forehead) when worn properly. Helmets should feel comfortable worn on the top of the head, not tilted back and not moving side-to-side or front-to-back as you move.
Sizing: Adults helmets range in size while most kids’ helmets are one-size-fits-all with a range of 18″-22.5″ (46cm-57cm). Wrapping a string around your head (1″ above your eyebrows) and then measuring the length of the string can help you collect an accurate helmet size measurement before entering the store. Try on helmets that match your measurement and make sure the all criteria from the fit section has been fulfilled. If you find you’re between sizes, always opt for the smaller size and a slightly snugger fit.
Straps: The straps should meet just under each ear at the jawbone in a “V” and the buckle should fit snugly with your mouth completely open. TEST: Once buckled, push up on the front edge of your helmet, then again on the back edge. If it moves in either direction (more than 1″), tighten your chinstrap and test it again. Because of this adjustability, for proper safety, periodically check your strap’s adjustment to make sure it’s secured properly.
Adjustments: Most helmets offer a universal-fit sizing wheel on the back of the helmet’s internal sizing ring. To adjust, first expand the wheel before placing the helmet on your head, then reach behind your head and tighten the ring until you achieve that snug fit.
Shell and Pads: Remember to use the smallest helmet shell size that fits snugly over your head, there should be no more than two-fingers width between your eyebrows and the front of the helmet. Never use helmet pads to try and bridge the gap on a “too-big” helmet.
PROPER CARE OF YOUR SAFETY HELMET:
Don’t clean your helmet with chemical solvents that could damage or weaken your helmet’s integrity. Most manufacturers recommend the use of a soft cloth or sponge along with mild soap and water.
Don’t store helmets in areas such as attics, garages, car trunks or other areas where heat can build up and cause damage over time. Excessive heat can cause bubbling, melting or crazing of helmet parts that can negatively impact its structurally integrity.
Never wear a damaged helmet.
Do not share or loan your helmet to others. As we noted, proper fit is important. You could be putting the borrower at risk in an improperly fit helmet. Also, when the helmet is not in your control, you don’t have an accurate picture of its history or care – which leaves you open to increased risk as well.
Replace your helmet regularly: If your bicycle helmet has not been involved in a crash, it will last about 5 years. After this time, you should replace it as sun and other weather and pollution exposure can weaken the components of your helmet over time, reducing its protection.
Following these guidelines will ensure you not only get a bike helmet that will keep you safe but that it will also feel comfortable and keep you cool. Enjoy the ride!
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