Bicycling is not just for young children and teenagers. It is a popular fitness activity for health conscious adults and provides an alternative means of commuting for the environmentally conscious. However, bicycling without a helmet can lead to serious head injuries. Without a helmet the fall from the bike to the ground can kill you. For this reason, a helmet is essential and a certified helmet can greatly reduce you chance of head injury.
Why do you need a bicycle helmet?
Head injuries in bicyclists are noted in:
65,000 emergency room cases,
7,700 hospital admissions,
40% of bicyclists admitted to hospitals.
What can happen to your head in an accident?
In a severe bicycle accident your skull may be fractured and your brain may be torn by penetrating objects and bone fragments. However, your brain may also be injured by violent impacts that leave your skull essentially undamaged. Most brain injuries are irreversible.
The source of all these injuries is impact. When your head makes sudden, violent impact with something unyielding, the small part of your head that is hit stops moving immediately. But the rest of your head remains in motion. As a result, your brain and skull may break and tear before they too can stop moving.
Elements of a good helmet:
A good helmet protects your head by giving your skull and brain a little time to match speeds with suddenly encountered objects. The outer plastic shell, when present, adds load-spreading capacity and prevents objects from penetrating the helmet and causing injury to the head. The main body of the helmet has ventilation holes and is made of dense, crushable material that distributes and absorbs the energy of an impact. During an impact, your head actually crushes the helmet. Your brain thereby gains a little extra time and distance to slow down. As the helmet is crushed, it applies sufficient force to slow your head to a relatively gentle stop rather than the potentially lethal levels of force your head would sustain without a helmet.
To ensure a comfortable and snug fit, your helmet may be lined on the inside with comfort padding. The chin strap is also very important. In the event of a crash, it must keep the helmet on your head so that you remain protected. It must be strong, comfortable to wear and well-fitting. It should be buckled securely and snugly at all times.
Helpful helmet tips:
1. Make sure your helmet fits your head. Try the helmet on before you buy it. Adjust the strap firmly but comfortably. Try another helmet aize or design if simple hand pressure shifts or tilts a helmet significantly on your head or if it forces it off your head.
2. Wear your helmet correctly. Wear it everytime you bicycle. Wear it low on your forehead just above your eyebrows. Always fasten the chin strap firmly.
3. Read and follow all directions carefully. Only use manufacturerer approved decorations and cleaners. Replace your helmet if it has been damaged. Replace your helmet at least every five years.