Proper size and fit. Use a cloth measuring tape and measure around the widest part of your head about two inches above your eyebrows. It helps to have a friend help you. Helmet sizes vary by brand so a small size in one brand may be a medium size in another. A helmet that is too small will sit high on your head like a crown instead of being seated properly around your head. Yet, a helmet too big will easily tilt forwards or backwards while on your head.
Worn level on the head – not tipped up. I see this often and cringe because it leaves the forehead exposed. Try smacking your forehead with an open palm as a good test.
Adjusted properly (buckles and straps). Helmets have buckles on each side of the straps that can be adjusted. The buckles should be adjusted to fall just below the earlobes so it doesn’t fall at your jawline. The straps are adjustable so when they are snapped together, should allow you to look down without choking you yet should not be too loose. When the straps are snapped together securely, you should be able to slide two fingers under your jaw as a good test.
- Wipe the inside and outside of the shell regularly with a cloth dampened with warm water.
- Clean the straps and pads to avoid having unnecessary skin breakouts. You can put the pads in a lingerie mesh bag and throw it in a washing machine if you don’t want to wash by hand.
- Wash your helmet with warm, soapy water occasionally. I like to use my face wash rather than dish soap because it’s more gentle.
5. Helmets should be replaced if they get old or have had significant impact. Here is a good resource for when you should replace your helmet.
Keep in mind that helmets are not anti-collision devices any more than seat belts will keep you from getting in a car accident. Helmets can help to mitigate head injuries. There are many road hazards such as potholes, rocks and edges where the asphalt or concrete meets the pavement. If I’m not paying attention, I can catch the wheels of my bike tire on these hazards during my commutes and fall. Should I lose my balance and hit my head, a helmet can offer an extra layer of protection. Knock on wood — I have never fallen during my years of commuting by bicycle but just in case, I wear my helmet. If I am going to “bother to wear it” then I wear it properly so that it can do its job as a safety equipment and protect my head.