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What makes a helmet safe?

Kids and adults who ride bicycles on the street must wear helmets to remain protected. However, knowing what makes a helmet safe is also important. Protective gear must be rigorously tested to ensure it can withstand an accident and knowing these standards will help you choose the right helmet for yourself or your child. The Cleveland Clinic offers the following information.

Quality helmets will display certain safety information that indicates they’re certified for use. Consumers can look for the Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC), which can be found inside the helmet. Other certifications include Snell, ANSI, and ASTM, which were common prior to 1999 when changes in the law took place. These stickers offer an assurance that a helmet has been rigorously tested and is safe for use.

Even if a helmet is CPSC-certified, it can still break down over time. Cracks or defects in the helmet will limit its ability to provide protection, which could prove serious if there is an accident. Additionally, older helmets will not be held to the same safety standard as those manufactured after 1999. Helmets should also be discarded after they’ve been involved in a crash, as they may be compromised.

It’s also important that a helmet fits properly. Even safety testing can’t override an improper fit, which could leave areas of your head vulnerable to injury. In this case, look for a helmet that is snug but not tight, especially in the strap area. Your helmet should be level on your head when worn, and should be no higher than two finger-widths above your eyebrows.

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