Adopt A Helmet


The Adopt a Helmet blog is brought to you by Ottawa Public Health (OPH). The same content is available in French at Adoptez Un Casque.

For more information about choosing and using the correct helmet, please visit or call 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656). You can also connect with OPH on Facebook and Twitter (@ottawahealth).

For more information: Media contact 613-580-2450

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Being born and raised in Ottawa I often get asked by visiting family and friends: what is there to do in Ottawa? Often my answer starts with Winterlude and skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Winterlude is a fun-filled tradition that draws crowds from far and wide! This is the last weekend of the Winterlude season and we can expect thousands of people on the canal.

When I skate, I often see many kids wearing helmets, however parents are not doing the same. I am very comfortable on the ice and I am sure many Canadians parents are too. In Ottawa, about 470 people go to the hospital yearly for skating related injuries. I feel this could be explained by many elements that are out of our control while skating on the canal. For example, last year, over 800,000 people skated on the canal. Of these 800,000 skaters many vary in skill and lack attention while skating. Some skaters are beginner and tend to fall often. Others are the “Peewee” hockey players who are weaving in and out of the crowd playing a game of “tag.” Some may even be eating a delicious pastry on one hand and texting with the other, regardless of skill level, collisions are bound to happen. After witnessing many tumbles through the years, I can no longer justify not wearing a helmet on the canal.

Winterlude often marks quality time with family and friends. Be a role model for your children and consider adding a helmet to your outing checklist this year.

For more information, visit or call 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656). You can also connect with OPH on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter (@OttawaHealth) and Pinterest

By: Vinh Nguyen, Project Officer at Ottawa Public Health

3 notes

Things to consider when “adopting” a helmet…

1) What types of style of helmets are out there?
There is a variety of affordable helmets suitable for activities such as cycling, hockey, and skateboarding that are available at many retailers across Ottawa. Some of them focus on cool urban graphic design, while others are more geared toward custom fitting.


2) How do I know what activities I can use my helmet for?
There are different helmets for different types of activities. Single impact helmets are only able to take one major impact before they need to be replaced. They include bicycle helmets, ski helmets, most skateboarding helmets and in-line skate helmets. Multi impact helmets can take more than one impact, and are best suited for rougher sports. These include hockey helmets, BMX helmets, and certain in-line skate helmets.

3) How do I know when it is time to “adopt” a new helmet?
The lifespan of a helmet can last for 5 years with proper care. Helmets are equipped with a manufacturing date. Read over the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure a proper fit and ensure you care for it properly. Helmets may have to be “put down” early should they have a bad fall or endure extreme wear.


4) What type of training is involved in raising a helmet?
Although no obedience class is necessary to tame your helmet, it is important for you to have the right skills and knowledge to protect yourself and your newly adopted helmet. It is recommended that new cyclists take a skills training course, such as the Can-Bike program (call 3-11 for more information). This will help to keep you, your helmet, as well as the people around you much safer. Helmets require at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Although this may seem like a lot at first glance, it really adds up to only half an hour five days a week.

5) How do I know my helmet has the right fit?
Some people just fall in love with a helmet at first sight. For others, it may take some adjustment to get used to. The rule of thumb for fitting is:
• Put the helmet on your head so it is not tilting backward or forward
• Ensure there are two fingers distance from the helmet to your eyebrows
• Allow the helmet to form V-shape straps around each ear
• Check to see that there is one finger distance between the chin and the fastened strap.

6) How do I know if my helmet is certified?
Helmets should be equipped with a certification sticker. Look for any of the following certifications (Canadian, US, European):
• ASTM F-1492 
• Snell


7) Can I adopt a used helmet?
It is not recommended that you adopt a used helmet. It is important to know the history of your helmet, especially for single impact helmets.

8) Can I put stickers on my helmet for decoration?
It is not recommended to put stickers on your helmet’s coat for several reasons:
• Stickers can cover cracks/damage to the helmet
• Stickers may prevent helmets from sliding on impact
• Sticker glues may degrade the plastic shell of the helmet
• Altering a helmet by placing a sticker on it may affect a helmet’s certification or manufacturer’s warranty

Check out the “Adopt a Helmet” Video on YouTube:


Brought to you by Ottawa Public Health.

A helmet adoption story from Dillon (Ottawa,ON)

"I wear my helmet every time I bike now. I feel a lot safer, especially biking around the busy streets in downtown Ottawa. I have invested a lot of time, effort and money into my university education and I now feel like I should do everything to protect my head and my brain - wearing a helmet is essential for this! There are many dangers involved with biking and although I can’t avoid all of them, I can protect myself from many by wearing a helmet. The helmet I have even has a sun shade to protect me from the sun "

If you have a helmet adoption story, please send it to

A Helmet Adoption Story from James C. (Ottawa, ON)

"I have “cared” for my helmets since I can remember. At age 5 for my hockey helmet, at age six for my skateboard helmet, and at age 7 for my snowboard helmet. I have always used a helmet to protect the noggin. My parents rule is NO HELMET – NO SPORTS, NO EXCEPTIONS! I have broken my wrist, and my leg doing sports, and they heal  My head - not so much. So it was a good thing I was wearing my helmet snowboarding when I fell on the terrain park on a rail. I ended up with a mild concussion. Even with a mild concussion I couldn’t remember things, and was confused, and had a major headache. Can you imagine if I didn’t have a helmet on. The first question out of the Doctors mouth was, were you wearing a helmet. Thankfully yes.  I care for my helmet so it cares for my head.

Lately there have been 2 accidents in the news of people biking and not wearing a helmet, and a skateboarder not wearing a helmet. We should learn from these accidents how important have a helmet in good condition specific for your sport and wearing it is.”

The preceeding was an entry into the ”Adopt a Helmet Contest,” which ran from June 29th to July 20th 2012. Winners will be contacted after July 25th, 2012.