When Should You Buy A New Helmet?
If you haven't purchased a new helmet in recent years, you may wonder when you should replace it. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing helmets every 5 to 10 years, but there are entities like The Snell Memorial Foundation that state that 5 years is the max. What if your helmet from the early 2000s is still in great condition? You don't see any damage, so there must be no issue, right? When considering replacing your helmet for any powersport, here are a few situations that require a new purchase to be made.
You've Crashed in It Before
Most helmets are considered single-use safety devices. When you crash or another instance where the helmet takes on impact, the foam underneath the plastic shell will crack. Because of this, it will no longer be able to effectively protect your head.
But what if you can't see those cracks? Good question. Unfortunately, there's no good way of determining if foam has been damaged during a crash if you don't detect any hairline cracks. The only real way to see is if you were to saw your helmet open! Even still, it's wise to assume the foam has cracked after a crash.
When it comes to your noggin, it's best to stay on the safe side and purchase a new helmet when you've been involved in an accident. When you dispose of your old one, be proactive and cut the straps off. This will deter others who think you're throwing out a perfectly good helmet.
It Doesn't Have the Right Standard Stickers Inside
Check inside your helmet for the right standard stickers. If you see one for CPSC, ASTM, DOT, or Snell Foundation, then your helmet is up to the current safety standards for impact protection. If these aren't present, then the helmet is outdated and not your safest option.
For instance, you won't find these stickers on very old helmets from the 1970s. While it may look cool and have a vintage flair, safety is much more crucial. This is a definite indicator to purchase a new helmet. Helmets from the 1980s and beyond should be fine but be sure to check the inside of your helmet regardless.
Parts of the Helmet Have Worn Down
While the interior foam of your helmet is unlikely to wear down, it's important to ensure the other parts of it are in good condition. With time and use, the helmet shell will age after being in the sun. When the plastic is exposed to UV light excessively, you'll notice that the color fades. This indicates that the shell is at risk for cracking. Should your helmet shell crack, the internal foam that is responsible for keeping your head safe will lose its shape. Like this, the chin straps must be in near perfect condition as the mechanism keeping that helmet fastened to your head. Check out the straps to ensure the slide adjusters work well and that the buckles are functional. If you detect an issue, it's time for the helmet to go. The last thing you need is your helmet to feel loose or slide out of place as you're riding. In no situation should your helmet move once it's on.
While sweat and dirt won't cause serious damage to your helmet, it's important to regularly inspect it for these types of damage. No matter what you're riding—ATVs, snowmobiles, or motorcycles, your helmet is that one piece of equipment that could make the difference between a minor crash and a tragic one. Make it a point to check you and your family's helmets every year to ensure a fun and safe ride for everyone.