Northern NJ Safe Kids / Safe Communities

Hats off for Helmets!

At Play

Common sense use of helmets in sports

When the weather starts getting warmer, many can't wait to shake the shackles of cabin fever and get outside. In all the excitement, it may be easy to forget about the importance of taking safety precautions during outdoor activities -- especially sports activities.

Many sports — from baseball to biking — require the use of helmets for safety. No matter what sport your child plays, helmets cushion the blow of a fall, hit or other impact on the head. Yet, while helmet usage is on the rise, many children still fail to put one on before climbing on a bike, lacing up skates or hitting the horse trails. According to the Brain Injury Association, of the approximately 82,000 brain injuries suffered each year while playing sports, many might have been avoided with the proper use of a helmet. Following are some tips for choosing the right helmet for your child's favorite sport, courtesy of the National Safety Council (


Because many state and local governments have enacted helmet laws, biking is regulated more than most other sports. More than 60 percent of childhood bicycle-related fatalities occur on small neighborhood roads, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Although one helmet will work for both biking and in-line skating, serious skaters should consider using a helmet that provides better protection for the back of the head — the area most likely to hit the ground.

Wear either helmet low on your forehead, about two finger-widths above your eyebrows. Be sure to position it evenly between your ears and flat on your head. Adjust the straps and pads so the helmet is snug and secure and doesn't move up and down or from side to side when the strap is tightened. An ill-fitting helmet may protect your skull somewhat, but it's also more likely to cause a neck injury during a fall.

Make certain any attached mirrors can break away easily during a fall, and remove visors that can shatter and cut your face. Look to quality manufacturers like ProRider, Schwinn and Bell to help you get started.


Don't be fooled by the name — a softball is anything but soft. According to the Brain Injury Association, the head is involved in more baseball and softball injuries than any other sport.

As in other sports, a baseball or softball batting helmet should fit squarely and snugly on the head, covering the forehead and not rocking side to side or forward and backward. These helmets should also include ear protectors, and for an extra bit of caution, you may want to consider eye protection as well. Look to Champion and Rawlings for batting helmets to protect your young baseball or softball star.


Equestrian riding helmets are worn at a slight angle. The brim should rise about 10 degrees above the back of the helmet, according to the American Association for Horseman Safety.

The helmet should fit equally around your head without exposing the forehead or obscuring your vision. Rock the helmet up and down and back and forth. If the scalp moves but the helmet is still comfortable, it fits. After wearing the helmet for about five minutes, take it off and look for marks on your forehead. If there are marks, try a larger size. Secure long hair at the nape of the heck rather than on top of the head.

Advice varies about whether to replace or repair a helmet after each fall. A good rule of thumb is to have your helmet carefully inspected any time it touches the ground in a fall. Look for quality helmets from manufacturers like Troxel, Equine Science Marketing, Ltd., Lexington Safety Products and Del Mar Helmet Company.

image of a gray bike helmet

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KJ Feury RN APN, C
Phone: 973-971-4327 
Fax: 973-290-7350