Has the Helmet Been in a Crash?
If a helmet has been in a significant crash, it should be replaced. Many manufacturers offer "Crash Replacement Policies" so they can inspect crashed helmets.
How Old is Too Old?
Manufacturers recommend that a helmet should be replaced every five years, depending on usage and exposure to the elements. There should be a sticker inside the helmet that has the original manufacturer's date.
Does it have a Cloth Cover or No Cover?
If the helmet has a cloth cover on the outside or no cover (just a foam outer shell), the helmet was made before 1984 and does not meet today's ANSI standard. The outside of the helmet should be plastic.
What Sticker is on the Inside?
If the helmet has an ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials), CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) or Snell sticker on the inside, it was designed to meet today's standards. Anything else and the helmet should be replaced.
Has it Been Recalled?
If a helmet has been recalled it definitely needs to be replaced. Check the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute website (bhsi.org) for a complete listing.
Inspect the Helmet Carefully
If the helmet is too small or too large, it will not give the protection it was designed to give. This is especially important with children who are growing. Inspect the outside plastic and internal foam for cracking by pulling and squeezing the helmet. Inspect the chin strap for security and fraying.
Article Written By Eric Duncan
Eric Duncan is a military veteran and a professional in the safety, travel and aviation industries. Duncan has been writing since 2002 for magazines, newspapers, local business literature and on such websites as Singletraks.com. He has earned his Bachelor of Science in professional aeronautics and his Master of Business Administration.