Everyone in your house knows the importance of wearing a helmet. But it isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, so make sure that:
It fits well. “A loose-fitting helmet is almost worst than no helmet at all,” Alexander A. Khaleesi, MD, chair of neurosurgery at UC San Diego Health. That’s because if you fall, not only are you hitting the ground, but the helmet can also shift and hit your head, for two impacts instead of one.
You have the correct helmet for the activity you’re doing. About a quarter of all head injuries also affect the neck, Khalessi says – and this is especially common for skateboarders, who can hit the back of the head when they fall. If your kids skateboard, their helmets should cover the base of their skull.
It’s comfortable. Besides providing comfort, a helmet’s padding helps absorb energy in the event of a fall. “When you hit your head and go from motion to a sudden stop, the brain can keep moving and hit the front of the skull,” says Khalessi. “The helmet’s cushioning assists in the deceleration and helps prevent that.”
It hasn’t been damaged. If the hard shell of a helmet is cracked, its stint protecting your skull is over and it’s time to get a new one.