Activity Title: How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet Level: Adult Time Frame: Allow at least 5 minutes per child as a minimum. Materials: Helmets, Helmutt brochures Video(s): "Ride Safe Way to Fit a Bicycle Helmet" Description: Fitting bicycle helmets on children is a time-consuming process of helmet sizing, pad and strap adjustment. It is highly recommended that helmet fitting be done prior to riding - i.e. plan to fit helmets one day, and ride on another. So much time is taken up with helmet fitting that little regular class time remains to do much else. If a helmet isn't properly fitted, it won't protect. It's important to take the time to fit each helmet individually. While fitting the helmet, talk out loud to the child about what you're doing, how it should feel, and how to put it on correctly. Train your volunteers before you expect them to fit helmets to children. Show the video as an introduction on helmet fitting. Tip 1: Sort and separate the helmets into age group, or size (S, M, L). Display them on different tables. As kids come in, steer them to the right helmet pile. This avoids the problem of them choosing a helmet color or style they love but isn't the right size. Activity:
First, choose a helmet according to the age group listed on the helmet box. These ages are just ballpark estimates, because some kids have small heads for their age, and some larger. Some kids will fit into a small adult helmet. But until you get more experienced, it's the best way to start.
Once children have picked out their helmet, take it out of the box. At least 2 kinds of sizing pads should have come with the helmet, in a separate plastic bag. You can see one set of pads is thicker than the other. Some helmets already come with a set of pads installed. If so, leave them in, and make note of where they sit in the helmet. Untangle the helmet straps, and find the FRONT and BACK of the helmet.
If pads aren't installed already, install the THIN pads. INSTALL ALL THE PADS, DO NOT LEAVE ANY OUT. Some pads attach with Velcro, others are peel 'n' stick. Usually pads have to be installed on the front, back and sides of the helmet, at the very least. Then put the helmet on the child straight and level, and let the straps dangle down past the ears. Push it down firmly so the pads compress slightly. Rock it gently from side to side, and front to back. Ask the child if it feels snug - not tight. IT SHOULD NOT BE LOOSE. If it is, take the thin pads out, and install the thicker pads. If the thicker pads are already installed, you may be able to get the correct fit by re-adjusting them in different places in the helmet. If not, try a helmet that is a size smaller, if that is possible. Some extra space can be taken up by adjusting the straps, but it all depends on the strapping system of the helmet.
Once the correct pads are in place, untangle all the twists or kinks in the straps, and begin adjusting them. Most helmets have sliding collars on each side for adjustment (some are locking/unlocking), and an adjustable chinstrap with a locking clip and elastic. Each side strap should be adjusted so the collar on the strap is just below the child's ear. The chinstrap should be adjusted so it holds the chin firmly, but has enough room to fit one finger under the chinstrap, and doesn't make it hard for the child to open their mouth wide, or swallow when they drink. The clip on the chinstrap can be centered under the chin, or if this is uncomfortable, adjusted to lie either on the left or right side. Additional chinstrap material should be folded back toward the buckle, and fastened with additional elastics.
Tip 2: Adjust the straps with the helmet on the child's head, if possible. This is faster, and makes it easier to get the collars and buckles in the right place on the first try.
Adjusting straps can be difficult at first, but you will quickly get proficient after just a few helmets. Once you have the helmet adjusted, ask the child to gently shake their head front to back, and side-to-side. The helmet should not move, slide or slip. If it does, note which way it moved and tighten the adjustments in the opposite direction. Snug the helmet up, and have the child shake the helmet again.
Remember that straps will stretch slightly over the next weeks and months. Tell the child it's OK to tighten the straps up if the helmet starts to feel loose.
Myths: "Children will grow into a loose-fitting helmet".
NO. An improperly fitting helmet is useless, and won't protect the child.
"A damaged helmet is still OK to use".
NO. Once a helmet is damaged by a collision or crash, CUT THE STRAPS AND DISCARD.
"I can still wear my hat under my helmet"
YES. As long as the helmet is adjusted properly with the hat underneath, it's safe.
"I don't need to fasten the chinstrap on my helmet, as long as it's on my head".
NO. If the chinstrap is not fastened, the helmet will easily fly off.
"Stickers and decals are OK to put on my helmet".
YES. These items won't hurt the helmet or it's function.