Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Owner's Guide to Replacing Your Helmet

You may have heard that you must replace your helmet after a single crash, and wondered who could ever afford that. The good news is, that's for bike helmets; head impacts are a less common but more catastrophic occurrence for biking versus skateboarding. A bike helmet is made with a thin plastic shell and EPS foam that crushes on single impact. Skate helmets are made with thicker plastic shells and, in some cases, more resilient EPP foam to withstand multiple impacts of lesser force. (Pro-Tec's SPX foam is a modified EPP foam.) So actually unless your skate helmet specifically has a CPSC or ASTM F1447 rating, it does not provide adequate bike protection. Just saying.

Though skate helmets are designed to outlast a single crash, they should still be inspected after any hard crash and replaced if the shell is visibly cracked or the foam crushed. Besides that, keep in mind that they're only designed to withstand a limited number of low-force impacts and probably will have had enough after three years. Replacing the foam when it shows signs of wear is a good idea, but it will not extend the life of the shell.

Considering a Hockey Helmet
Something else to consider is that ASTM F1492 skate helmets are designed for skateboarding, and that skateboarding and playing roller derby are not exactly identical activities. Unlike skateboarding, roller derby is a team contact sport, and in this regard derby perhaps has more in common with hockey. ASTM F1045 hockey helmets are designed to withstand the prolonged, high-force impacts that typically occur in that sport. This means that hockey helmets provide better protection specific to the team contact aspects of derby, and also that hockey helmets last longer; the recommended period for replacing a hockey helmet is seven years.

In conclusion, helmets are designed for the activities that you wear them for. Like a ski helmet has to protect you from skiing sixty miles an hour into a tree, which isn't something that you have worry about in derby. There is no ASTM standard for roller derby helmets, so we basically can choose from skateboarding helmets or hockey helmets. In my opinion, skateboarding helmets are adequate for beginners learning skating skills and not participating in team contact. Hockey helmets start to seem like a better idea when you start scrimmaging.

I'm due for a new helmet, so I will be shopping for a hockey helmet soon. Pics TK!

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Which Helmet for Which Activity?