Bike helmet must fit snugly

Dr. Drew Werner

First things first. Congratulations are in order to my partner, Dr. Angela Ammon, who with her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of a baby girl, born at Valley View Hospital on May 11! Please join me in wishing them all well.

Did I leave you guessing in last week’s column, or just confused like watching our weather reports this week? I didn’t want to leave my introduction to SallyAnn Bluhm hanging and hope some of you made it to her Think First booth at the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Edwards.

She gave away 120 bike helmets. Don’t worry, however, if you didn’t get one. Sally and Think First will be giving away a lot more. This year she hopes to give away over 700 bike helmets and 150 ski helmets. Other dates:

1. 911 Camp (for 9- to 11-year-olds) emphasizing water, fire and helmet safety. June 11 at the Avon Rec Center; sign up there. July 9 in Eagle; sign up through WECMRD

2. Flight Days in Eagle June 25-27.

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If you would like more information about Think First or her helmet giveaways, you can contact Sally at 479-7221.

In order to make sure your new (or old) helmet will protect you like it should, it needs to fit right. Adapted from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, here are some brief instructions on how to fit your (or equally importantly your child’s) helmet. For more information, go to You can also check out for drawings of a proper fit.

The first thing to remember is helmets don’t work unless they are on your head. Your bicycle handlebars don’t need one dangling there. The second thing to remember is that helmets are not hats. The helmet must be level on your head and strapped on securely to be protective in a crash. In addition, the fitting pads inside must touch all the way around and the strap needs to be comfortably snug. So, how do you do all this?

First, adjust the fit pads or ring.

Most helmets come with extra foam fitting pads to customize the fit. You can usually remove the top pad or use a thin one there to lower the helmet on the head, bringing its protection down further on the sides. Use thicker pads on the side if your head is narrow and there is a space, or add thicker pads in the back for shorter heads. Move pads around to touch your head evenly all the way around. If you have a model with a fitting ring instead, just adjust the fit by tightening the ring as needed.

Next, adjust the straps.

Put the helmet on, level on your head. Adjust the rear straps, then the front straps, to locate the Y fitting where the straps come together just under your ear. You may have to slide the straps across the top of the helmet to get them even on both sides. Then adjust the chin strap so it is comfortably snug. Now adjust the rear stabilizer if the helmet has one.

Are you done?

Shake your head around vigorously. Then put your palm under the front edge and push up and back. Can you move the helmet more than an inch or so from level, exposing your bare forehead? If the answer is yes, you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear. Now reach back and pull up on the back edge. Can you move the helmet more than an inch? If so, tighten the nape strap. When you are done, your helmet should be level, feel solid on your head and be comfortable. It should not bump on your glasses (if it does, tighten the nape strap). If it still does not fit that way, keep working with the straps and pads, or try another helmet. It is important to remember that not every helmet fits every head. Pick a color and style you like, but if you can’t get it to fit well, pick another style.

Make your summer a safe one. I hope to see you out on the trail!

Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.

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