Colorado Attorney Discusses When To Replace Your Child’s Bike Helmet

Most people think of a bike helmet as something that is fairly indestructible.  Bike helmets are not indestructible. However, a bicycling helmet is a safety device. An abused helmet may not protect your child’s head in an accident. To fully appreciate this, it helps to have an understanding of how it works.


A bike helmet typically has three layers. First is a hard outer shell with a smooth exterior.  The smooth exterior provides for very little friction when the helmet contacts the ground. The smoothness allows one’s head to slide along with the rest of their body without wrenching their neck when skidding.

The middle layer (or protective liner) is usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). This layer protects one’s head from injury. In an accident, this middle layer absorbs the shock of impact by compressing and slowing down the rate of deceleration of the head. The compression literally softens the blow.

The next layer is the inner liner.  The inner liner is a spongy foam padding that serves to improve comfort and fit.


In an accident when the bike helmet hits the pavement or an object, the middle protective layer will serve its purpose and protect your child’s head. However, it will never regain its original shape.  After the crash, this layer’s ability to absorb shock becomes compromised.  Then it is time to replace the helmet.  Even if the helmet looks okay and unharmed, if an impact occurred the helmet must be replaced.

A helmet left for long periods in a hot car or in an unheated area during the winter needs replaced.  A number of glues and resins used in the construction of the helmet can be degraded by temperature extremes.

A helmet used for a long time or one that looks beat-up or the outer shell looks faded from years of exposure to the sun, replace it. Snell, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing helmet safety standards, recommends replacement every five years.

Does your helmet have a CPSC, ASTM, or Snell sticker?  If not, do not use it.  Also, retire the helmet if it has been severely abused such as being run over or dropped from a very high window.

Be careful about hand-me-down helmets. When you don’t know the history of the helmet’s use or if it does not have a proper fit, do not allow your child to use it.


Bicycling helmets are safety devices and should be treated as such. The safety of your child depends on its proper function. Should your child suffer a head injury and you require the assistance of an Colorado attorney, don’t hesitate to contact us.