Deciding whether or not to wear a helmet while bicycling can be a matter of life or death. Consider the statistics. About 67,000 of the 540,000 bicyclists who visit emergency rooms each year have head injuries, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Head injuries account for 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths. In other words, wearing a helmet is a no-brainer.
When it comes to bicycle helmets, follow these simple rules:
- Make sure the helmet has a seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
- Your helmet must fit properly. It shouldn't be able to move more than one inch in any direction (use the sizing pads for a more secure fit).
- Wear your helmet correctly. It should be worn flatly on the top of your head, not tilting forward or backward.
- Adjust the chin strap so that it fits snugly; this will help secure your helmet in place.
- Consider visibility—if the helmet blocks your vision, pick another one.
- Just one accident—even a minor one—is enough to damage the helmet. Unlike other types of helmets, bicycle helmets are designed to sustain only one impact. Replace your helmet after an accident or a fall. An undamaged helmet should be replaced every two years.