July 12 marks the 5th annual Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day. Once again, Riders4Helmets has teamed up with leading manufacturers to offer special discounts on safety headgear. Hundreds of retailers in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the U.S., and UK are joining in the cause.
Although International Helmet Awareness Day (IHAD) gives equestrians the chance to purchase a new helmet at a lower price, that’s definitely not all the day is about. The Riders4Helmets campaign was founded as a direct result of dressage Olympian Courtney King-Dye’s accident from which she suffered brain injury and left her in a coma for several weeks. She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, and is still undergoing rehabilitation.
“The impact that Riders4Helmets is making makes my struggle worthwhile,” said King-Dye, who campaigns for helmet safety in partnership with riders4helmets. “It’s educating people to not make the same mistake that I did.”
In 2013, the FEI invited Riders4Helmets to partner with them on a global safety initiative. The FEI then promoted the campaign when sharing information about their new helmet rule which went into effect Jan.1, 2013.
Riders4Helmets’ mission is to educate equestrians on all aspects of helmet safety. Education starts with choosing a helmet that is right for you and how to properly secure it on your head. A properly fitting helmet will optimize your chances of a safe ride and knowing when to change your helmet is imperative.
As 2014’s IHAD nears, Riders4Helmets’ Lyndsey White shared these ten important tips that all riders should remember.
1. If you have a hard impact blow while wearing your helmet, immediately replace it with a new helmet. There may be damage to the helmet that is not visible to the naked eye.
2. Helmet manufacturers generally recommend replacing your hat every 4-5 years. Helmets take a beating over time from sweat, heat, dust and rain, and the styrofoam liner in the helmet, relinquishes its ability to protect the head over time. “Replacing your helmet sooner than 4 to 5 years may, in some circumstances, be necessary,” said White.
3. A ponytail or different hairstyle can affect the fit of your helmet. When you try on helmets prior to purchase, wear your hair in the style that you expect to wear it when riding.
4. Only purchase a helmet online if it is brand new and unused. Check the date of manufacture. Purchasing a used helmet can be very risky and is NOT recommended. The helmet may have sustained previous damage that you are not able to see.
5. Riding is considered more dangerous than downhill skiing and motorcycling.
6. There is no statistical correlation between skill level and injury likelihood. Professional riders are just as “at risk” to sustain injury due to a fall as amateur riders.
7. Approximately 20% of all accidents which result in head injuries happen while the person is on the ground.
8. Head injuries are cumulative. An original head injury can be made much worse by additional concussions.
9. Even a fall from a standing horse can be catastrophic. Your injury risk depends on the height from which you fall, as well as the speed at which you are traveling.
10. It is best if you invest in your own helmet, regardless of whether or not you own a horse. “It is a personal safety product purchase. Your helmet is designed to fit your head,” reminds White, “as a poorly fitting helmet offers very little, to no protection.” In addition to wearing a properly fitted helmet, the harness must fit snugly in order for the helmet not to rotate should you have a fall.
Riders looking to purchase a helmet can visit www.riders4helmets.com/ihad/ to find retailers near them who are participating in IHAD.
For more information on the Riders4Helmets campaign, visit Riders4Helmets.com. You can also follow the campaign at www.facebook.com/riders4helmets, http://twitter.com/riders4helmets, instagram.com/riders4helmets, and pinterest.com/riders4helmets/. Use #IHAD to share your photos and updates.