Protect Your Player – Choose the Right Hockey Helmet
The hockey helmet is the single most important piece of equipment that you can put on your child. The most critical factor of the helmet is fit. Check to see if your child’s helmet is adjusted correctly by placing the helmet on the child’s head and have the child shake his or her head from side to side. If the child’s head moves more than the helmet does, then the helmet is not tight enough. It has to fit snugly and not move around on the child’s head.
Also make sure the helmet is approved. Every approved helmet will have a CSA and HECC label on the back. These labels signify that the helmet meets the minimal certification standards. The higher-end helmets can exceed these minimal standards by as much as 50%. Experts in outfitting youth hockey players suggest getting the most protective helmet you can.
There are various densities in the interior foam used in helmets, resulting in different levels of protection. The more advanced helmets combine various foams to offer the maximum protection and comfort. The most common foam types are explained in more detail below.
Single Density – Single-density foam is most widely used in lower-end helmets. This type of foam is softer foam that is comfortable and fairly light. The single density foam will offer the least protection. Equipment experts recommend this type of foam only for young beginners, as collisions or falls with this group do not result in high impacts.
Dual Density – Dual-density foams are a combination of softer single density foam joined together with harder, lighter, and more protective closed-cell foam. The softer foam will be closest to your head to keep the comfort level high, and the harder foam is on the outside between the inside of the shell and the softer foam. Dual-density foams come in various protection levels depending on the amount of each foam that is used. Dual-density foam is the most widely used foam type, as it offers the best combination of protection and weight at the best price.
EPP Foam – EPP foam is the most protective of all foams. It is also called concussion foam, as it is the best at preventing concussions. This foam is designed to absorb and spread the impact throughout the foam to keep the head from taking the shock. Once the foam experiences a huge shock it should not be used again as it loses its protective abilities. EPP is designed to protect your head from one big impact. EPP is used extensively in other applications such as bicycling helmets, race-car helmets, and downhill skiing helmets, to name a few. EPP is becoming more widely used, and as a result this is bringing the price down. EPP foams are very protective and light. This foam offers the highest protection of the three types of foam. Helmets that offer EPP will have memory pads placed throughout the helmet for comfort.
Factors in shell design include vents, adjustments, and fit. Studies have lead designers to produce shells that help vent the interior of the helmet. The vents are designed to force air through the helmet while you are skating to keep your head cool to help with fatigue and overheating. Helmets that can be adjusted in various ways will help you secure the best fit. The adjustment options that are available vary from helmet to helmet. The three most common adjustments are the length from front to back, side adjustments to keep the helmet tighter, and an adjustment on the back of the helmet to secure it to the occipital bone to keep it from sliding up and forward. Some helmets will also feature toolless adjustments. These make it very easy to get a perfect fit.
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