With the weather warming and summer officially on its way, what sounds better than dusting that bicycle off to go for a ride? While we’re often tempted to simply hop on and take off, one thing a lot of us forget is to wear a helmet. Little do we acknowledge that bicycle helmets actually have the ability to reduce the risk of a head injury by as much as 85%* when worn properly - that’s one way to remember to buckle up that chin strap before taking off!
In other words, helmets act as seatbelts for our brains. When we get into an accident, our bike helmet reduces the force of impact on our brain, and acts as a shock absorber. The expanded polystyrene liner that cushions our head is meant to be crushed in times of impact. Once the liner is fully compressed, the liner no longer provides protection for our brains. Helmets only act as a seatbelt for our brains when they are worn the correct way, just as a seatbelt does little to protect us when we don’t buckle it up, or have the straps on us the way they should be. Now the question becomes: how do you know how to properly fit your helmet? Well you’re in luck; the 2V1 rule has three easy to remember steps you can use to ensure your brain is fastened and ready to go when you hit the road!
- Step 1: With your helmet sitting level on your head, you should be able to place no more than 2 fingers between your eyebrows and the bottom of your helmet.
- Step 2: Make sure the side straps form a “V” shape below your ears.
- Step 3: Adjust your chin strap so only 1 finger fits between your chin and the strap.
Now that you have a helmet that fits you properly, here are a few other added benefits to wearing a helmet that you should consider: helmets help ensure you are visible to road traffic. Accidents often occur as drivers can’t always see cyclists. This is why it is encouraged that cyclists wear brighter colored helmets to ensure they can be seen. Not only does your helmet help protect you from road traffic, but your helmet also ensures you are protected from changing weather such as extreme sun, rain, and hail. Helmets are at their best when they are looked after properly (not thrown around and stored out of direct sunlight), when they are less than 5 years old, as well as certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Now with a better understanding of what your helmet can do for you, you’re set to feel the sun on your face as you take your bicycle for a ride!
For more information, or to take the “Bike Helmet YES Test” visit the Alberta Health Services website at www.albertahealthservices.ca
*Information from the Bike Helmet YES Test PDF (http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/healthinfo/InjuryPrevention/hi-ip-pipt-chc-take-the-bike-helmet-yes-test-color-bro.pdf )