Helmet Safety: Myth v Fact
5 FACTS ABOUT HELMETS AND RIDING SAFETY*
- Hospital admission rate for injured [equestrian] riders is greater than motorcycle riding (approx. 3.5x’s greater).1
- The majority of head injuries are caused by unpredictable events, such as your horse spooking. Even more surprising, 1 in 5 people who are seriously injured weren’t even riding – they were just hanging out around horses or watching someone else.
- About 70,000 people go to the emergency room each year for equestrian-related injuries. About 12,000 of those have suffered head injuries.
- Most deaths from head injury can be prevented by wearing ASTM/SEI approved helmets that fit correctly. They should be properly adjusted every time you ride including a snug chin strap.
- Most riding injuries occur during pleasure riding.
1 The Equestrian Medical Safety Association (EMSA) Spring, 2010 Newsletter
5 MYTHS ABOUT HELMETS AND RIDING SAFETY
- A helmet is a helmet… Bicycle Helmets, Skateboarding Helmets and Equestrian Riding Helmets are not all the same. While similar in appearance, bicycle helmets are not subject to design specifications and standards that a riding helmet must pass in order to provide adequate protection.
- Horseback riding isn’t dangerous unless you’re going really fast... Actually the risk of injury is more closely related to your distance from the ground than speed. Falls from just over 2 feet high can cause serious injury, regardless of how slow you ride. Risk of injury is also tied to how much you ride, not how good you are.
- The more expensive your helmet, the more protection it offers... You can spend $500 on a helmet but it doesn’t make it safer. As long as it is ASTM/SEI certified, you’re getting the proper protection. Spending more might get a fancier helmet but it isn’t safer.
- If you don’t have a helmet, you can borrow your friend's... Avoid lending or borrowing helmets. As a savvy rider, you want to know exactly what kind of treatment your helmet has experienced during its life so you can knowledgeably assess its integrity over time.
- After a fall, if there are no cracks or visible damage to your helmet, it is fine... You should replace your helmet whenever you’re in a fall. There could be a defect that is not visible that compromises the integrity and therefore your safety. Even if your helmet has never taken a hit, you should replace every five years (sooner if you ride often). The materials can be broken down by heat, dust, sweat and rain/weather.
* Adapted from a post at troxelhelmets.com/blog
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