As scientific studies of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries in athletes have shown ever more clearly, helmets are a necessity for most contact sports. And even with helmets in use, the long-term impact of such injuries can be devastating - just look at the widely referenced experiences of many former NFL players who have fallen victim to neurodegenerative diseases after years of heavy hitting on the gridiron.
Parents must choose and supervise their children's activities wisely for the sake of their future health and well-being. Let's go over the following guidelines in order to maximize helmet safety:
- Label: Make sure the helmet has the proper certification sticker or label from one of the following groups: Consumer Products Safety Commission, Snell, ASTM or ANSI.
- Review: Take a look at consumer reviews of the helmet's effectiveness. Sometimes helmets fail even though they are labelled and meet official safety standards, so do your homework online.
- Impact: If a child severely knocks his or her head once with a helmet, you should throw the helmet away. The integrity of the helmet has been compromised by the impact, but it did its job if it protected your child. Many manufacturers will even replace the helmet free of charge.
- Damage: Never use a damaged helmet. Check around for cracks, splinters, or weak spots in the helmet. "When in doubt, throw it out."
- Paints: Use only manufacturer-approved paints on the helmet. Other materials could damage the helmet's shell and compromise its safety performance.
- Instructions: Follow manufacturer instructions on helmet use. For example, the rim of the helmet should be one to two fingers' width above the eyebrows, the straps should form a "V" just under the earlobe, and the buckles should be flush under the chin.
- Age: No child under age one should ride in a vehicle requiring a helmet. A toddler's neck may not be able to support a helmet's weight.
Source: 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe