With the meteoric rise in helmet use over the past two decades, skiers and snowboarders have made significant adjustments to slope safety. Each helmet has a shelf life, and there are five telltale indications that indicate when it’s time to replace it.
Top 5 Signs When to Replace a Helmet?
In addition to a significant accident or visible damage, you should replace your ski or snowboard helmet every three to five years, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Your helmet’s fit, climate exposure, and impact history all play a significant role in determining when it should be replaced.
Consider age to be the final indicator that it is time to replace your helmet, while the others serve as warnings to do so sooner. All five, however, have blatant indicators, so let’s examine what to watch out for.
The most important sign to replace your helmet is age. Depending on the brand, most helmets are designed to be effective for 3-5 years before losing their ability to protect you in a crash.
A lot happens in those years – heat, cold, sweat, sunlight – all of which take their toll on the helmet’s structure and materials. It all comes down to how the helmet is constructed to protect you.
2. Shape and Size
As you’d expect, if your kid has hit a growth spurt since the last helmet use, it’s time to re-examine the fit. But outside of the obvious, there are a few other usual suspects that cause improper helmet fits.
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For the rest of us though, a growth spurt isn’t an option, well sort of. If your hair has grown out, or you buzzed your head since last season, this can impact your fit. Or, perhaps you’ve moved into a different climate, where your buff is no longer needed, and you’ve ended up with a looser helmet.
These scenarios and others require some adjustments to your helmet. And if your dial or ratcheting doesn’t do the trick, don’t force the issue and gamble the helmet for a run. It’s time for a replacement.
Surprisingly, some individuals who require their helmets after a severe fall still contemplate returning to the activity without a replacement; however, this does occur. If your helmet was damaged in any way during a collision, no matter how minor, it is time to replace it.
This cannot be negotiated. The protective elements of your helmet (the EPS foam) have been compromised and will no longer provide the intended level of protection.
It’s unfortunate that you need to purchase a new helmet, but you’ve already demonstrated the importance of having a functional helmet, so presumably no further justification is necessary. Dents, cracks, gouges, and flat spots are clear indications that you need a new helmet, but not all damage will be visible, so don’t rely on a spot check alone to validate the continued use of a helmet after a severe fall.
4. Minor Impacts
Remember when you were loading your skis and your headgear landed on the driveway with a thud? If it has happened multiple times, or even once in a hard accident, and you are unsure, it may be time to replace it.
This one is a bit of a “death by a thousand cuts” and may be more of a warning about how you maintain your headgear during the offseason. We hope that you take exceptional care of your helmet even when you’re not wearing it, but we’re all aware that this is not always the case.
Such as dropping it or allowing it to be destroyed while being stored. These seemingly minor impacts can cause significant damage, so if you are unsure of the condition of your helmet, it is probably best to replace it.
5. External Variables
It’s mind-boggling to consider that some of the most significant factors affecting the replacement timeline of a helmet occur when you’re not even wearing it. And one of the unseen perpetrators is nature. You may not believe that hot and cold temperatures have an effect on the efficacy of your helmet, but they do.
Extreme temperature fluctuations – both hot and cold – and drastic changes in humidity can hasten the breakdown and degradation of EPS foam. If you tend to leave your gear in the garage all year, it may be time to purchase a new helmet.
Another disregarded factor is chemicals, such as hair products or sunscreen that may be sweating into the helmet. It may not occur to you, but hair products, cosmetics, and sunscreen can compromise certain materials.