Whenever you’re riding anything with wheels, whether it’s a skateboard, rollerblades, roller skates, or a bicycle, safety should always be your primary concern. For most veteran riders and skaters closer to adult age, this is usually the case.
However, safety equipment like helmets and knee pads aren’t at the top of their gear list for younger, more inexperienced skaters. Because of this lack of better judgment, the most serious skateboard-related injuries occur when the rider is not using a helmet.
There’s no way around falls, wipe-outs, and other mishaps when you’re skateboarding. It’s a risk you assume when you hop on the board. However, many of the larger risks can be reduced by simply clipping the chinstrap of a helmet before you begin a session.
Sadly, the lack of this simple act brings a negative element to an otherwise positive youth hobby. If you’ve been skipping out on a helmet, or have friends who skateboard that leave theirs at home, make it a point to highlight this article; you could possibly help prevent a serious injury. Continue reading for important information regarding skateboard helmets and safety equipment.
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The Facts Surrounding Skateboard Helmet Usage and Head Injury
When you’re trying to make a case for using a helmet to skateboard, the best thing you can do is reference data collected regarding the matter. Luckily, there’s a good bit of this data that exists to back this argument.
Every year, 75% of skateboarder hospitalizations involve head injury. The other 25% of those incidents are various arm, leg, and wrist injuries. Nearly 60% of all patients admitted with these injuries were not wearing a helmet.
If you’re not convinced, here’s some even more alarming data regarding bike helmets. Recent studies conducted in New York, 74% of all fatal bike crashes involve head injuries. An alarming 97% of the cyclists who died were not wearing helmets.
Let’s return to the earlier point about younger skaters being the most vulnerable in non-helmet situations. Further research collected regarding skateboarders revealed that six in every ten skateboarders hospitalized with a serious injury were 15 years old or younger.
It’s hard to ignore the situation when solid data like this is presented. If these injuries and hospitalizations are so prevalent, why don’t skateboarders wear helmets and follow skateboarding safety rules more often?
Why Don’t Skateboarders Wear Helmets?
Most young people who start skateboarding are made aware of the risks of not wearing a helmet. Even with ample warning and education involved, not wearing a helmet seems to be a huge issue. What’s the exact reason behind this blatant disregard for their safety?
Most younger skaters choose not to wear helmets because they feel like they don’t look as cool wearing one. These same skaters usually don’t wear knee and elbow pads either. They are more concerned with their style and look on a skateboard than their safety. This can most likely be attributed to a mixture of modern culture and the pressure or teasing by their peers. Most young people below the age of 15 are very impressionable and overly concerned with what everyone around them thinks.
It’s also fairly normal for teens and children to claim they just didn’t think about grabbing a helmet or protective gear. In the excitement of grabbing their skateboard and rushing out the door to meet friends, it’s understandable how a kid could forget their helmet and safety gear. However, this doesn’t make it excusable or forgivable.
Aside from the warnings of parents and authority figures, is there any legislation regarding the use of skateboard helmets? Could laws help to slow these injury trends down?
Laws Regarding Skateboard Helmets and Protective Gear
Normally every skatepark in the United States requires skaters to wear a helmet while they’re on the property. Currently, California is the only state that requires skaters aged 18 or under to wear helmets while they’re on their boards.
However, other states have been looking into passing similar legislation regarding umbrella laws like California. Most states do have the same laws regarding helmet use in skatepark areas, though.
Sadly, even some adult skaters make the argument for not wearing helmets while you’re skateboarding. In a shameless display of irresponsibility, they offer lackluster excuses as to why this act is permissible.
Most echo sentiments of learning how to fall properly and being experienced skaters. However, normally it’s not single-person accidents that land skaters in the hospital. The fatal incidents and severe injuries happen when vehicles are involved.
There’s nothing learning how to fall can do for a skater if they are struck by a moving vehicle. However, because conflicting opinions exist, we are still forced to weigh the pros and cons of this situation.
Cons of Wearing a Helmet
· They can feel weird, weigh your head down, or mess your hair up
· They can make you sweat, forcing the perspiration down your forehead and into your eyes
· They just don’t “look cool”
Pros of Wearing a Helmet
· Chances of sustaining a life-threatening head or neck injury are substantially reduced
· If you do wreck, your recovery time is much lower than when you don’t wear a helmet
· You don’t run the risk of being ticketed by not wearing a helmet at a skate park
· More visible to drivers if you’re skating on the street or sidewalk
· Chances are lower of ending up in the hospital with severe injuries and being sidelined
When you examine both sides, it’s clear to see that the pros outweigh the cons by a large amount. This is especially true considering many of the cons can be remedied easily with a little ingenuity.
If you have an issue with sweat getting into your eyes because you’re wearing a helmet, just use a headband. These can prevent moisture from getting into your eyes while you’re skating.
When the helmet doesn’t feel right on your head, or if it’s too tight or heavy, you’re probably wearing the wrong size helmet. Pick out a more suitable size or adjust the one you currently own.
There’s even ways to prevent the uncool look of wearing a helmet.
How to Look Cool Wearing a Helmet
There are ways you can look cool when you’re wearing a skateboard helmet. Use these tips to show your teenage friend or family member next time they consider skateboarding without a helmet
· They have a chance to become a trendsetter or authority by wearing a helmet. Make a statement and let other skaters know why it’s so important to wear one. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, and eventually, people will follow behind you.
· Helmets can take away a lot of fear and unsure feelings about skating. Most likely, when you wear a helmet, you have more courage to perform cooler tricks and get larger amounts of air. This alone makes you look a lot cooler.
· Purchase a customized helmet or decorate it yourself. You can buy cool-themed and patterned helmets that have awesome designs. If you’re more artistic, you can even design one yourself and start a trend at the skate park.
Speaking of purchasing or designing a helmet, here are some tips for choosing the right helmet for you.
Choosing the Right Helmet
Picking the right helmet for you is vital for having the right level of protection. The shape and overfall fit of the helmet goes a long way in how much protection your skull and neck get from falls. Use these tips when you’re picking out your next piece of protective headwear.
The Right Fit
You need to make sure the helmet you choose fits before you buy it. The best way to do this is by measuring your head and comparing it to different-sized helmets available. Using a tape measure, position the tape about an inch above your eyebrows and wrap it around your head. This measurement will give you the circumference of your dome.
If you’re buying a helmet in person, try it on before you make your final decision. The helmet shouldn’t move around or wobble on your head. Loose-fitting helmets should be exchanged for a different fit. When you buy one online, make sure you can exchange your purchase if the size isn’t right.
Every helmet available for sale comes with a certification. Every manufacturer should meet the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Always check helmets for both of these markers. If they’re certified by both of these boards, you should be good to go.
Type of Helmet
There are normal skateboard helmets that you’re used to seeing skaters wear on a daily basis, and there are also special helmets that provide more protection. Regardless, most helmets that are fashioned specifically for skateboard use are more impact and damage resistant.
Regular open-face helmets are the standard in the skateboard world. However, you can also purchase full-face helmets that some longboarders use for downhill speed-skating.
Like we mentioned before, some skateboarders use sweat and ventilation as the excuse for not wearing helmets. An open-face selection with plenty of ventilation is the answer to this problem.
Don’t choose a helmet that is too confining of your face. There should be plenty of open space available that provides ample airflow.
You could also consider throwing a towel over your shoulder when you skate. It is uncomfortable to get sweat in your eyes while you’re riding. This is a problem in the summer months especially.
Straps and buckles keep the helmet in place on top of your head. The straps normally run from the sides of the helmet, down your face, and underneath your chin. The buckles should connect either directly under your chin or on the sides of the helmet below your ear.
There are quick-release buckle systems and normal ones that you have to thread manually. One works just as well as the other.
Using the Wrong Type of Helmet
Some skaters grab something like a bike helmet, assuming it’s going to give them the same protection. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
For starters, bike helmets don’t have the same coverage on the back of the head as skateboarding helmets do. This could leave the base of your skull and the top of your neck exposed for injury.
The helmets aren’t made from the same material either. Skateboard helmets are made from a more durable material than the bike version. Always check to see what the helmet you’re using is made from. The materials used can make a huge difference.
It’s not hard to see the importance of wearing a skateboard helmet. The pros far outweigh the cons in this situation. The biggest fight is getting younger skaters to realize this same argument.
As uncool as helmets look, the level of protection they offer is priceless. There’s nothing cool about suffering a life-threatening head or neck injury and being unable to return to the sport you love. Consider this point next time you leave the house to skateboard, and be sure to grab your helmet. It could end up saving your life.