Helmet Safety for Youth

Helmet Safety! 

In Ontario, it is mandatory for anyone under the age of 18 to wear a certified helmet while riding a bicycle. You can learn more by visiting Ontario’s Bicycle Safety website.

Helmets are recommended for people of all ages and all abilities while doing activities like skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, sledding, skating, skiing and snowboarding.

What you and your youth need to know about helmets

Helmets reduce the risk of serious brain and head injuries by absorbing force from a fall or a hit to the head. 

What are some helmet tips?

  • Do not place stickers on a helmet.
  • Parents can set a good example by wearing their helmets.
  • Remember, anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet - it's the law.

Most helmets will fit into one of the following categories:

  • Single impact: (example- bicycle helmet). They are designed to protect against one impact. They must be replaced after a crash or hard hit to the head, even if you can't see any damage.
  • Multi impact: (example- hockey helmet). They are designed to protect against more than one impact. They must be replaced when you see damage.
  • Multi Sport Helmet: does not mean that it is multi impact but that it is approved for more than one activity.  Check the manufacturer’s label for the list of activities for which the helmet can be worn safely
What to look for when buying a helmet:
  • Make sure that the helmet has been safety certified- there will be a certification sticker on the inside or outside of the helmet. The CSA Group has adopted a standard for hockey helmets.
  • For recommendations on which type of helmet to wear for a specific sport or activity, the associated standards and more, visit Parachute Canada. It is also important to refer to the manufacturer’s owner’s manual for guidance about the intended use, fitting, care, and maintenance of a helmet.
  • Never buy a used helmet.
  • Buy a helmet that fits now, not one that a youth has to grow into.
How to fit a helmet

How to fit a bike helmet

Know the 2V1 rule to fit a bicycle helmet. Put the helmet on the head so it is level and so it is not tilting backwards or forwards. Then check the following:

  • Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrow
  • V-shape straps around each ear
  • One finger between chin and fastened strap

Make sure the helmet doesn’t move. Move head up and down, and side to side. The helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug on the head.

cartoon showing Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrow cartoon showing V-shape straps around each ear Cartoon showing One finger between chin and fastened strap

How to fit a hockey helmet


cartoon child showing one finger distance from helmet to eyebrow cartoon child showing One finger between the chinstrap and chin cartoon child showing helmet does not move

Put on the helmet so that it is not tilting forward or backward. Then check the following:

  • One finger between the chinstrap and chin
  • One finger distance from helmet to the eyebrow
  • Make sure the helmet doesn't move. Move head up and down, and side to side. The helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug on the head
When should I replace my youth's helmet

The plastics of a helmet dry out and may become brittle over time.  Many helmets can also only take one impact before they must be replaced.  Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and replace a helmet:

  • After a crash or large impact.
  • When it does not fit anymore.
  • If the helmet has a crack or is dented.
  • When the straps are frayed, torn, or do not work.
  • Every five years. 
  • Hockey helmets are designed to protect against more than one impact. They must be replaced when they are damaged, cracked, have loose-fitting or missing liner pieces, or have had a severe blow.   

For more on choosing the right helmet, visit Parachute Canada.

Rolling with updated cycling laws in Ontario

Making the roads safer requires the cooperation of everyone. In 2015, Ontario updated the Highway Traffic Act by introducing Bill 31.  This Bill includes new laws to encourage safer behaviours among people driving vehicles and riding bicycles on roads across Ontario.  

Changes for Cyclists:

  • If you're riding your bicycle 30 minutes before dusk until 30 minutes after dawn or any time when the light is insufficient and the weather is not favorable, you need to use a white light on the front of your bike and a red light or reflector on the back of your bicycle. There's a set fine for people who don't have their bike properly lit.

Changes for Drivers and Passengers of Motor Vehicles:

  • Before opening the door of a motor vehicle on the side of moving traffic all people must first make sure that opening the door will not obstruct the path of an approaching cyclist or any other vehicle.  This action of interfering with moving traffic is called 'dooring' and carries a set fine and demerit points.
  • When passing a cyclist, drivers must provide one metre of space between the vehicle and the person riding the bike. This one metre distance refers to the distance between the extreme right side of the motor vehicle and the extreme left side of the bicycle, including all projections and attachments.  Passing with a space closer than one metre is not safe and can result in a set fine.

Remember that road safety is everyone's responsibility and the more we work together the safer our roads become.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit Health811.ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211ontario.ca.
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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