March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so it is the perfect time to discuss helmet safety. Over the years, a very successful fire prevention public relations campaign has conditioned all of us to replace our smoke alarm batteries with the fall end of Daylight Savings Time change. We here at The Riding Corner believe that all equestrians should check their helmets every March at the beginning of Daylight Savings Time which coincidently falls smack dab in the middle of Brain Injury Awareness Month. This year Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday March 13th, 2016. So mark your calendars today to remind you to perform a helmet safety check!
Riding Helmet Safety!
So we researched helmet safety from multiple sources and here are just a few of the helmet safety facts we found most compelling:
- Helmets work. Most deaths and permanent head injuries associated with riding can be prevented by wearing ASTM/SEI approved helmets that fit correctly and have the harness firmly applied.
- To get the most protection out of your helmet, it needs to fit you well, and be properly adjusted every single time you ride, including a snug chin strap.
- As long as your helmet is SEI /ASTM certified, you’re buying a certified protective helmet. Spending more might get you different padding, fancier styling or materials, but it doesn’t translate into advanced protection.
- After a fall if your helmet took the impact of the fall replace it even if you do not see a crack in it.
- You need to replace your helmet if you’re ever in a fall. It could have a defect that’s invisible, and if you fall on that same part of the helmet again, you won’t have the protection that you should. And even if your helmet never takes a hit, it’s a good idea to replace it at least every five years (or sooner if you ride often), just because the helmet material can take a beating from all the sweat, heat, dust, and rain.
- Avoid loaning your helmet to barn friends since you will not know whether the helmet’s structural integrity and protective features have been compromised.
- Helmet Storage and Care
- When you’re not riding, keep your helmet in a temperature-controlled environment, such as inside your home or tack room. Never use your car as helmet storage. as extreme heat and extreme cold are detrimental to the integrity of the shock-absorbing materials comprising the helmet. Even some barn locations are not optimal places for helmet storage, as fluctuating temperatures can be detrimental to the materials that comprise the helmet.
- If your helmet gets damp inside from perspiration or outside from precipitation, allow it to air dry naturally rather than placing it near an artificial heat source. If possible, store your helmet between uses in a fabric helmet bag or hat bag that keeps it clean and protected.
- Tip: Avoid spraying the exterior of your helmet with insect repellent or spraying your head with repellent before putting on your helmet. Chemicals in repellents have proven to be detrimental to the integrity of the helmet safety materials.
- Helmet Replacement
- Even if your helmet never takes a hit, it’s a good idea to replace it at least every five years (or sooner if you ride often), just because the helmet material can take a beating and degrade from all the sweat, heat, dust, and rain. At a minimum, you should also replace your helmet when it turns five years old. There seems to be a bit of a disagreement on whether helmets should be replaced five years from the date of manufacture or five years from the date bought.
- Also, if the fit of your helmet becomes loose for any reason, the helmet should be replaced with one that fits properly.
- Where to Buy a New Helmet
- If it is five years since you bought your helmet, or you need to replace your helmet because you fell or it is damaged in any way, our first stop for all things equestrian is HorseLoverZ. They have an excellent riding helmet selection at all price points and and helmets that are appropriate for all riding disciplines.
Heels down. Eyes up. Ride the corners.