Did you know that over 85% of all serious head injuries from bike falls could have been prevented by wearing a helmet? For children under 18, wearing a helmet is the law in 7 provinces in Canada – legislation that resulted in a drop in bicycle-related head injuries among kids by a whopping 45% in some provinces! Many adults disregard this important safety habit, but children look to adults to set an example – and adult heads can also be injured.
Helmets work by absorbing the energy of an impact so that less force is transferred to the head. They have special plastic foam inside the helmet that accomplishes this. Never wear a helmet that has been in an accident; the foam has already been crushed and won't work as well the next time. And, even without accidents, they don't last forever – look for the manufacturer's recommendations on when to replace your helmet.
When purchasing a helmet, make sure that it fits your head – check that it touches all parts of your head but is not too snug. It should be impossible to pull your helmet off your head without removing the chin strap, and when you are wearing it, it should not shift around more than an inch in any direction. Check for the CSA symbol, which means your helmet has been tested and passes the standard for safety and performance as set by the Canadian Standards Association.
A helmet can also help you avoid accidents by making you more visible. You should purchase a helmet in a light colour that can be seen by motorists, and if you ride at night, wear one with a reflective strip.
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