When it comes to rider safety the first thing that comes to mind is a helmet and you would be right, but there are a few things that many people don’t know. That is the importance of certification. A lot of helmets will have a sticker on the inside which states that they are certified in some sort of standard. The two biggest certifications that you should be looking for when it comes to longboarding are CPSC, and ASTM. The difference between certified and uncertified helmets could be one that makes all the difference when it comes to an impact.
When buying a helmet there are a few things that you should look for; fit, foam type, and certification. First of all if you have a dual certified helmet but is loose on your head, it will not protect you effectively. Your helmet should fit snuggly but not be uncomfortable. If you were to shake your head the helmet should not be able to move freely.
Foam type and certification go hand in hand. If helmet is certified in CPSC or ASTM or both (Dual Certification) then it will most likely be hard foam. IMPORTANT: A helmet that is certified but for a different activity is just as bad as no certification at all. Having the proper certification is what makes the difference. If you are not sure if your helmet has the right certification just take a look inside and look for the sticker and it should tell you CPSC or ASTM and usually has a small description of what it is good for.
The component that really defines a helmets effectiveness is the type of foam the helmet has. Uncertified helmets will have soft foam instead of hard foam. In an impact soft foam will compress under the force, what this does is the force of the impact will still get through to your head and will not protect the way a certified hard foam helmet would. Hard foam will not compress, but rather, absorb and dissipate the force of impact. The force travels down the shell and foam around your head instead of the force going directly into your head. If the foam cracks or breaks do not worry, that just means it did its job, the helmet took the impact and broke instead of you.
Unfortunately you will have to replace your helmet. A small price to pay to skate another day. This is what makes getting a certified helmet so much more important.