My husband and I love finding great deals at garage and yard sales—we’ve found all kinds of amazing things in our adventures (brand-new Ibex shirt for $1, anyone?) As you can imagine, I’ve seen just about everything put out for sale on the tables (and yes, I did buy that bronze frog lamp.) One thing we see a lot are bike helmets. Sure, $5 for a helmet that looks in good shape seems like a great deal, but before you pounce on that fancy new helmet with squeals of triumph and joy, hear me out first....
Bicycle helmets are single-use items. Yep. The first time you crack your head against the ground in that helmet is also the last time that helmet can reliably protect your head from any other impacts.
No cracks in the helmet? That's not necessarily a reliable sign whether or not a helmet has been in a crash. Helmets can look completely intact after an impact.
Because garage sale helmets are generally previously used, you cannot be sure whether or not they have been involved in a crash. So, if you see a used bicycle helmet for sale during your next garage sale treasure hunt, give it a pass. You have no idea where it’s been.
PS—for years I’ve been telling folks that helmets also expire every 5 years, but it turns out that this is not true! Helmets look DATED after 5 years, but they don’t expire. If that passé helmet makes you (or someone in your family) less excited about wearing it, then maybe you want to buy a helmet that is more exciting to put on, but that geeky lid will still keep your head safe.
Here’s the link to the peer-reviewed article—the abstract is free.