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Ask the Expert: How to Choose a Bike Helmet

Ask the Expert: How to Choose a Bike Helmet


Bike riding is a great warm-weather activity, and wearing a helmet is the most important part of bike safety. Sandhya Katz, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Nyack Hospital, shares tips to pick a properly fitting bike helmet.

 

How can I make sure my helmet fits properly?

Bicycle riding is a great form of exercise, but it’s important to do it safely. Helmets are a key part of bicycle safety. Buy a helmet that fits properly, and wear it every time you ride. The benefits of bicycle helmets for both adults and children are obvious: They can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and cut the risk of brain injury by up to 88 percent.

Your bicycle helmet should be snug, level, and stable on your head. It should cover most of your forehead before you make any adjustments. If your forehead isn’t covered, try a bigger helmet.

After putting on the helmet, before you buckle the chinstrap, shake your head to see if it shifts from side to side. If it does, you’ll need to tighten it with pads or the ring at the back and base of the helmet, or you will need a smaller helmet.

Here’s how to make sure it fits correctly:

  • With the helmet level on your head, you should see the very edge or rim of your helmet when you look up past your eye­brows—approximately two finger widths above your eyebrow.                                                                             
  • The straps should meet and form a “V” right under each ear lobe. To check, form a “V” with two fingers around your ear.
  • Once the straps are adjusted in a “V,” buckle them. The straps should be snug but not too tight. Adjust until you can put no more than two fingers between the strap and your chin.

Other bicycle helmet safety tips:

  • When shopping for a helmet, look for a certification label from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
  • Replace the helmet after a crash.
  • Tell your children to remove their helmet before they play in the playground or climb on equipment or trees—the straps can get caught on poles or branches.

Find more information about bicycle helmets and other bicycle safety issues on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

Nyack Hospital is a 375-bed community acute care medical and surgical hospital located in Rockland County. Founded in 1895, it is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and has partnered with Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine providing clinical rotations to third-year medical students. Its mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas.

 


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