Helmet Standards and CertificationsHelmet standards vary according to the type of helmet and its intended use. Many organizations certify helmet safety based on laboratory testing that shows that a helmet provides adequate impact protection for that sport or activity.
Here is a list of sites that offer current helmet standards and comparisons:
- Which Helmet for Which Activity (pdf) - U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (UPSC)
- Snell Helmet Safety Standards
- UPSC Bicycle Helmet Standards
- A Comparison of Bicycle Helmet Standards
How to Fit a HelmetA properly fitting helmet offer protection, comfort and style for a variety of sports. Here are some guidelines for fitting most helmets:
- A helmet should sit evenly on the head, cover the forehead, rest just above the eyebrows and not obscure your vision. The lengths of the sides and back of a helmet vary according to the sport, so choose accordingly.
- A helmet should fit securely. One way to test the fit is to hold the helmet in place and try to turn your head from side to side, then up and down. The helmet should have very little room for movement (less than an inch).
- If your helmet moves, tighten the straps and possibly add padding to the helmet. Excessive movement may mean the helmet is too big and could slip, block your vision or come off in a crash. If it's going to protect you in a crash, the helmet should not come off --no matter how hard you try.
- Check your helmet's chin strap adjustment by lowering your jaw as much as possible without moving your head. The chin strap should tighten, and the top of your helmet should pull down slightly.
- If you're fitting a child's a helmet, select a helmet that fits well before adjustments are made. Don't buy a helmet for a child to grow into.
- Try on helmets with the eye protection or headwear that you may wear when playing your sport. You should allow room for sunglasses, goggles or a hat to fit comfortably under your helmet if you plan to wear them while active.
- A helmet that has been involved in a high-speed impact or crash should be replaced. Any impact that crushes the foam liner, or leaves a crack on the helmet shell may no longer offer appropriate protection
How to Choose a Helmet for Your SportThere are a variety of helmet styles and prices for every sport. The most important consideration is to choose a helmet that is approved for your sport and one that fits your head fairly well before making major adjustments.
- Bike Helmets
Always wear a helmet that has a CPSC sticker.
More expensive helmets usually have more vents to provide better ventilation, and offer more adjustments for a better fit. Some helmets come with a detachable visor to improve vision in bright sun. Cycling helmets often come in a variety of bright colors to make you more visible in traffic.
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- Skiing / Snowboarding Helmets
Helmets for skiing and snowboarding are insulated for cold weather. They provide complete head coverage and high-impact protection, and they allow ski goggles to fit snugly.
Look for a helmet that meets ski and snowboard helmet standards from the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), European Committee for Standardization (CEN) or Snell.
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- Football Helmets
Football helmets are extremely strong and durable. They are designed to withstand multiple moderate impacts that typically occur in games and practice. However, they need to be checked for wear after any severe impact, if the shell shows signs of cracks or there is excessive wear in the lining.
Helmets for U.S. football must meet the standard of the National Operating Committee for Sports and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) ND002, or ASTM F717.
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- Hockey Helmets
Hockey helmets, like football helmets, are designed to withstand multiple repetitive impacts and just like football helmets, they should be checked for damage after any severe impact, if the shell cracks or there is excessive wear in the lining.
Hockey helmets should meet NOCSAE ND002, or ASTM F717 standards.
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- Baseball Helmets
Baseball players generally wear a helmet while batting to protect the head from wild pitches. A baseball catcher wears a helmet specifically designed for this position with full face protection. Helmets for baseball must meet the National Operating Committee for Sports and Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) ND002 standard or ASTM F717 standard.
- Skateboarding | Inline Skating Helmets
Experts recommend that skaters choose a helmet that meets the ASTM F1492 Skateboard Helmet Standard. Many inline skaters and skateboarders use a bike helmet, but a helmet specifically designed for skating offers more protection on the sides and back of the head. Because skaters are more likely to fall backward and hit their heads, this extra coverage is essential.
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The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. http://www.bhsi.org/index.htm. Accessed August 2, 2009.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Helmet for Which Activity? http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/349.pdf. Accessed August 2, 2009.