A helmet is simply a type of protective headgear worn on the head to protect it from injury. More specifically, a helmet protects the head from penetrating objects that could cause serious damage. More commonly, ceremonial or military helmets are worn, usually made from Kevlar or similar lightweight synthetic fibers. Some occupations, such as police officers, pilots, hunters, bikers and construction workers require a helmet as part of their safety equipment. For the rest of us, we just need a simple non-styled baseball style helmet that fits over our heads like a bandanna.
Even with helmets available in a wide variety of styles and materials, military helmets remain one of the most popular and commonly used types of headgear. The reason for this popularity is not hard to discern. One reason is that most people associate military members with a tough, serious attitude and wearing a military-style helmet certainly doesn’t scream ‘tough guy.’ In fact, for many people it’s the helmet’s basic look – clear, flat and tough – that makes wearing one a favorite.
But military helmets aren’t just meant to look tough; they also perform a number of important functions. Their shape is such that it allows the wearer to see through it easily. In addition, they generally have a visor attached to them. This visor is a kind of dome-shaped cover that protects the wearer’s eyes from the glare of the helmet’s exterior, allowing him or her to see clearly in bright conditions. However, these designs are no longer limited to use with only military personnel; today’s visors come in a wide variety of colors and designs that allow a wide range of civilian uses.
Motorcycle helmets were invented to address another set of issues that had been plaguing riders on two-wheeled vehicles for decades, visibility and protection from flying debris and heat. Although motorcyclists in past decades might have been exposed to a large number of flying objects (including rocks and other road debris), today’s manufacturers are quick to point out that more than 90 percent of the injuries that involve motorcycle riders are the result of collisions with other road users. The first step in preventing this problem was developing shatterproof helmets that can take a significant amount of impact without cracking or shattering. These helmets still must meet certain Department of Transportation (DOT) standards regarding visibility, but the new DOT approved visor technology ensures that motorcyclists will be able to see out of the helmet regardless of what they are riding in.
Other important features that both the DOT and the manufacturers agree are necessary for safe helmets are a well-padded chin guard, padded cheek pads and a properly sized and designed face shield. Chin guards are available in both single and multi-layer designs. The multi-layer design is the most popular, as it provides more padding than any single layer design. The face shield, which goes over the top of the helmet, is also designed to fit snuggly and securely over the entire face, rather than being just on the brow area. Both the chin and the face shield should be made of high quality foam, but many studies show that there is an increased risk of injury when manufacturers fail to comply with recommended foam thicknesses. These studies have shown that face shields worn by motorcyclists are three times less effective in reducing head injuries compared to those wearing a helmet without a visor.
Other important options available to consumers include an adjustable air-bag system that can be added to the top of a helmet, a full face helmet with a hard shell, and an easily removable hard shell helmet. An air bag system can be adjusted to provide maximum protection and should be included on all helmets offered for sale. The hard shell motorcycle helmet offers the most protection of any helmet, but riders may want to consider an open face helmet, which allows more of the wind to be directed into the face, rather than hitting the hard shell. Helmets with a hard shell are generally only recommended for riders aged 16 and older. Also the most sophisticated camera system is available in helmet.