Q: Do helmets protect against and prevent all brain injuries?
A: Helmets cannot protect against or prevent all brain injuries. However, helmet use can significantly reduce the severity of a brain injury. For example, several studies have shown that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88%.1For winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, wearing a helmet can reduce the severity of a brain injury by up to 60%.2
Q: How do I know what helmet my child should wear for different sports and activities?
A: Different helmets are designed for different activities. Be sure that the helmet is properly fitted for best protection using the 2V1 Rule. For a complete list of activities and recommended helmets, click here.
Q: Why are stickers not recommended on helmets?
A: Stickers can affect the helmet’s ability to protect against brain injury. The glue contents that make stickers sticky will also make the plastic parts of a helmet weak. If parts of the helmet are made weak, then it is not able to provide the best protection if there is a fall, collision, or other impact to the head. 3
Q: How do I know if my child’s helmet fits properly?
A: When fitting a bike or skateboard helmet on you or your child, follow the 2V1 Rule.
Ski and snowboard helmets are fitted slightly differently than bike helmets.4 For tips on how to fit a ski or snowboard helmet, click here.
When fitting hockey helmets, open the helmet to its largest setting and gradually begin to downsize the helmet until it fits comfortably snug. The helmet should rest on your child’s head so that the rim is about one finger width above the eyebrow and making contact with the top of the head.5
Q: Why is it important that a helmet have an approved standards label?
A: An approved standards label certifies that the helmet design has been tested by the manufacturer to protect your head against injury. The standards label can be found inside or on the helmet and should not be removed at any time. 3, 6
Q: What are the helmet standard labels that can be found?
A: Winter helmets currently available in Canada should have certification from CSA, Snell, or ASTM .The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certifies most bicycle and hockey helmets in Canada; however, other helmet types such as ski, snowboard, and skateboard may require other standard approvals.6 To find out what standards label you should be looking for, for your type of helmet, click here. (Page 14)
Q: Is it safe to use a second-hand helmet?
A: No. Unless you know the complete history of the helmet, it may not be safe as some helmets are only meant for one single impact. 7 Helmets also have expiry dates, so be sure to check the manufacturer guidelines before using any helmet. To learn more about the meaning of single vs. multiple impacts, click here.
Q: When should a helmet be replaced?
A: A bike helmet should be replaced every 5 years because the plastic tends to dry out and as the helmet gets older, the safety standards of the helmet may change too.
A bike helmet should be replaced after any crash or hit to the head. Bike helmets are designed for only a single impact, which means once hit, the foam is no longer able to protect against injury. 3
It is recommended that a hockey helmet be replaced every 5 years. Hockey helmets should be inspected regularly for cracks, scratches on the shell or wear and tear of the liner. If any other damages are found, the helmet should be replaced. 3
If a ski or snowboard helmet has been dropped or has been involved in a fall or hit to the head, the helmet should be replaced – even if you cannot see any damages as some ski and snowboard helmets are for one impact only.
If a helmet receives a significant impact, it can no longer be used.
Q: How old does a child have to be to wear a helmet?
A: If your child is old enough to participate in any wheeled activity, he or she must wear a helmet. For winter sports such as skating and sledding, it is also recommended that your child wear a properly fitted helmet to protect against head and brain injuries.
Q: What are the penalties if helmet policies are not followed?
A: Some of our Maritime Provinces have laws requiring helmets for certain activities. You can be ticketed for failing to wear a helmet in some cases. Click here for more details on specific wheeled activity helmet legislation in your province.
1 Page, J., MacPherson, A., Middaugh-Bonney, T. & Tator, C. (2012). Prevalence of helmet use by users of bicycles, push scooters, inline skates and skateboards in Toronto and the surrounding area in the absence of comprehensive legislation: An observational study. Injury Prevention, 18, 94-97.
2 Sulheim, S., Holme, I., Ekeland A. & Bahr, R. (2006). Helmet use and risk of head injuries in alpine skiers and snowboarders. Journal of the American Medical Association, 295, 919-924.
3 Safe Kids Canada. (2010). Helmets – Frequently asked questions for parents. Safety Information. Retrieved from: http://www.safekidscanada.ca/Parents/Safety-Information/Wheeled-Activities/FAQ/Helmet-FAQs.aspx
4 Think First. (n.d.). Wear it right every time: The do’s and don’ts of ski and snowboard helmets. Retrieved from http://www.thinkfirst.ca/documents/SkiandSnowboardingHelmet1page.pdf
5 Think First. (n.d.). Helmets for injury prevention in sports. Operation Headway. Retrieved from http://thinkfirst.ca/programs/documents/tf_oh_helmetsforinjurypreventioninsports.pdf
6 Think First. (2010). Helmet standards and certification. Helmet Clinic Guide. Retrieved from http://www.thinkfirst.ca/programs/documents/HelmetClinicGuide_Final.pdf
7 Safe Kids Canada. (2011). Frequently asked questions ski/snowboard helmets. Safety Information. Retrieved from http://www.safekidscanada.ca/Professionals/Safety-Information/Winter-Helmets/Ski-Helmets/Ski-Helmets.aspx