Helmet safety

What you need to know about helmets
How helmets protect your head
 
Choosing the right helmet
How to wear a helmet
 
When to replace your helmet

What you need to know about helmets

You must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle if  you are under the age of 18. (Ontario Highway Traffic Act).

You must wear a certified multi-impact helmet at all city of Ottawa public skating sessions at indoor arenas if you are aged 10 and under or if you are a weak skater of any age. (City of Ottawa Policy)

Helmets are recommended for all ages while taking part in recreational activities like skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, sledding, skating, skiing and snowboarding.

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How helmets protect your head

A helmet prevents a serious brain or head injury by absorbing the force from a fall or hit to the head. There are many types of helmets. Most helmets fit into one of the following categories:

  • Single Impact – designed to protect against ONE impact; Must be replaced after a crash or hard hit, even if it does not appear to have any damage

  • Multi Impact – designed to protect against more than one impact; Must be replaced when you see damage

  • Multi Sport – designed for more than one activity. Check the manufacturer’s label for the list of activities for which the helmet can be worn safely

Choosing the right helmet

What to look for, when buying a helmet

  • Check for the certification sticker – found on the inside or outside of the helmet
  • Buy a helmet that fits now not one to grow into
  • Never buy a used helmet

Activity

Recommended Helmet

Type of Protection

Certification
(Canadian, US, European)

Bicycling &
Non-motorized scooters

Bicycle helmet

Single impact

CSA, CPSC, ASTM or Snell

In-line or roller skating  

Bicycle / in-line skating or
skateboard helmet

Mostly single impact

CSA, CPSC, ASTM or Snell

BMX cycling

BMX helmet

Single/ Multi impact

ASTM or CPSC

Skateboarding

Skateboard or bicycle helmet

Single/Multi impact

ASTM, Snell, CEN,
CSA, CPSC, or ASTM

Ice hockey/ skating

Hockey helmet

Multi impact

CSA

Skiing & Snowboarding

Ski helmet

Single impact

Snell, ASTM, or CSA

Sledding/tobogganing

Hockey or ski helmet

Single / Multi impact

CSA, CPSC or Snell

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How to wear a helmet

General tips

  • Don’t wear a hat under a helmet. A cotton hajab is ok.
  • Wear ponytails at the base of the neck
  • A thin fleece toque is ok under hockey and ski helmets

Bicycle helmets

Put the helmet on so that it is not tilting backward or forward. Then check the following:
 

Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrow
Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrow

V-shape straps around each ear
V-shape straps around each ear

One finger between chin and fastened strap
One finger between chin and fastened strap

Shake your head up and down, and side to side. Your helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug.
 

Hockey helmets

Put the helmet on so that it is not tilting backward or forward. Then check the following:

One finger between the chinstrap and chin
One finger between the chinstrap and chin
One finger distance from helmet to eyebrow
One finger distance from helmet to eyebrow
Helmet does not move
Helmet does not moveShake your head up and down, and side to side. Your helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug.

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Other sport helmets

  • Make sure the helmet is level on the head and not leaning forward or backward 
  • Adjust side and chin straps according to the manufacturer instructions
  • Shake your head up and down and side to side. Your helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug

When to replace your helmet

  • After a crash or large impact
  • When it does not fit anymore
  • Helmets with cracks, dents or frayed and torn straps
  • Every five years after the manufacturing date for bicycle helmets 

Instructions and illustrations provided by Thinkfirst.

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