Helmet Care & Maintenance

helmet care

After your horse, helmet care should be your next priority. Helmets have a lifespan and it may not be as long as you thought. Is it time to retire your helmet?

Most horse back riders wear helmets when on a horse. However, those who choose not to often complain that the helmets don’t fit properly or are unnecessary. Riders who do wear helmets may not be wearing or caring for their helmets properly which can lead to lower protection.

Helmet maintenance and care is crucial for having the most protection against potential falls or injuries. It is a step that often gets overlooked or not considered. There can be serious consequences for not taking proper care of your protective equipment.

Ansley Grimes Stanfill, PhD, RN and associate dean of research in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Centre in Memphis says that “equestrians are more likely than combat veterans to have traumatic brain injury.”

Brain injuries are often the most difficult to fix or heal from. They can have life-long consequences that can have a huge impact on day-to-day life. We can fix broken bones and even internal injuries but damage to our brains is much more complex.

Survey Says Helmets Care Is often subpar

An online survey finds that riders’ helmets are frequently too old and often exceed expiration dates. Stanfill and her researchers held a survey that consisted of 2,598 complete and anonymous responses from adult equestrians. 25% of the participants said they didn’t always wear a helmet, 57% said that they aren’t necessary and 49% say that they don’t fit well.

In conclusion, better-fitting helmets could help encourage people to wear them more often. Additionally, more education and communication about the importance of helmets could result in more use. If professional riders advocate for their efficacy, it could lead more people to wearing them.

Helmet Wear & Tear

All helmets sold in the US must meet the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI).

  • Old or Expired Helmets – The maximum life span of a helmet is 5 years. Even if no accident occurs, after this time they should be replaced because natural wear and tear makes them less useful.
  • Dropped or Worn During a Fall – Riding helmets absorb the force from a blow or fall because the padding inside is destructible. Once a helmet absorbs an impact, the foam padding compresses and cannot go back to the original shape.
  • Overheating or Wetness – Helmets are sensitive to heat and wetness. If they become wet or too hot the foam inside becomes damaged and cannot absorb the shock from a fall.

How Do Helmets Work To Protect Us?

Helmets work to protect our heads from being injured from a potential injury. Whether it’s a fall or a kick from a horse, helmets are meant to absorb the blow. The inside is designed to reduce the force of an impact on your skull and brain. Additionally, the exterior of a helmet is often smooth to help your head slide across the ground in order to give you more room to stop.

Risks Of A Worn Out Helmet

The purpose of a helmet is to sacrifice itself for the safety of your head. If you wear an old helmet or a helmet that was worn during a fall, they have already been sacrificed. Meaning they are not effective anymore. Imagine an airbag in a car, after they are deployed they need to be replaced because they can only go off once. If a helmet is worn during a fall and catches some of the impact, it has served it’s purpose and needs to be retired. Wearing a worn out helmet is as useless as not wearing one at all, there is little to no protection.

Helmet Care & Maintenance

Helmet care and maintenance is just as important as keeping your tack in proper condition. They need to be stored, cleaned and updated to be best cared for and maintained. Here are some tips for helmet care!

Temperature Storage

Keep your helmet stored in a cool dry place. Temperatures over 158°F can cause the inside layers to melt or expand. This can cause them to lose their protective abilities.

Regular Cleanings

The best way to clean a helmet is to use a brush or damp cloth. If it is muddy or wet, it is important to wait for the mud to dry before brushing it off. On the outside of the helmet, don’t use any cleaner. All helmets that are used regularly get dirty and smelly. Allow your helmet to air dry before it is stored in a bag or trunk. Some companies make special cleaners and deodorizers for the inside of the helmet.

Removable Liners

Many helmets come with removeable liners. This comes in handy when cleaning a helmet. Cleaning or replacing the liners can increase your helmets lifespan.

Don’t Borrow & Don’t Lend

Just like a pair of shoes mold to our feet, helmets mold to the shape of our heads. If you wear a helmet that belongs to someone else and you fall, you wont be as protected as wearing and breaking in your own helmet. Additionally, if you lend your helmet to someone, it could be returned ill-fitting.

helmet care and maintenance

When Is It Time To Replace Your Old Helment?

All riding helmets should be replaced after 5 years of use if there wasn’t any falls, drops or impact to it. If you suffer a blow to your helmet, it should be replaced. Helmet care only matters as long as the helmet is still in good condition. Once it has been used in a fall, it’s done it’s job and is ready to be retired.

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