Vimy Outdoor Pursuits – What’s On Your Head?
This past November Break my family and I decided to take advantage of the early winter and head to the mountains to do some skiing. In preparation for that trip, I had to transition all of our outdoor gear. This meant putting away all of the mountain bikes, fishing rods, longboards and other summer gear and bringing out the skis, poles, boots, skates, hockey sticks and winter wear. While I was doing that, I was astonished at the number of helmets that we had and I started to ask myself if we really need all of these different kinds of helmets? The answer to my question is obviously yes we do. Each Helmet is designed for a specific sport and meets the specific safety requirements for that sport. As I brought out the winter helmets, I decided it was a good time to check the integrity of each helmet and make sure that they are in good working order.
The standard for most helmets in most sports is that helmets should be replaced every five years or if the helmet has received a significant blow. The five year rule is in place because the materials that the helmets are made of tend to deteriorate over time. Typically the outer shell of a helmet is made with some type of hard plastic that overtime breaks down and cannot withstand impacts as well. The inner part of a helmet, particularly ski/ snowboard helmets, are usually made with a type of foam that is injected with air bubbles and over time these air bubbles collapse making the helmet less able to absorb impacts. Depending on the helmet, you can often find a sticker on the helmet that indicates its expiry date. So how do you tell if your helmet has received a significant blow and is no longer fit to be used? This is a good question and one that is tricky to answer. At the beginning of each season or after a good crash which has impacted the helmet, you should look over your helmet to check to see if it has any imperfections. Check to see if there are any cracks on the inside and outside of the shell and check to see if the foam has any permanent indentations. A good rule of thumb is that if you fall and can feel the impact on your head, then that impact was also felt by your helmet requiring your helmet to be checked over. With the price of quality helmets these days, it is understandable to not want to replace your helmet regularly. That being said, a helmet is likely the most important piece of equipment you own and should not be neglected.
A friend of mine once told me that if you are going to spend money on any piece of sporting goods, spend it on a quality helmet. This has turned out to be sound advice as I have crashed many times on my skis and mountain bike where I have impacted my head and my helmet has always served me well helping to prevent injury. So before you hit the hills this winter, take a minute to look over your helmet, if it’s still in good working order than great, if not, then maybe it’s time for an upgrade.
Enjoy the winter and ride safe.