A safe helmet can't be broken, and must be buckled, to work. If they are missing parts or have been crashed they should not be used. Here's how we check our loaner helmets for problems.
There will be four piles when you're done: Broken, Missing parts, and two Good: large and small
Helmets that have cracks in the "styrofoam", missing or badly cracked plastic skin, or big scuffs or dents on the outside. Check for these things first as you look at each helmet.
- Remember that helmet makers recommend that you replace your helmet after four years of use, regardless of condition, due to deterioration of the foam (it becomes brittle and will shatter instead of absorbing the impact). Use your own discretion as to whether you scrap older helmets. Anything older than 5 years won't protect you as it was designed to, but it will be better than nothing.
Missing or damaged parts
- There should be foam pads on the inside of the helmet, in front, back, sides, and sometimes the top. If there are strips of "hook" velcro anywhere, there should be a foam pad there. If the pads are ripped or nasty, put them in this pile.
- Missing or broken buckles: the male half of the chin buckle is often missing or broken (it should look like the picture). The female side can be broken, or broken right off. The two ear "sliders" (that join the front and back straps on each side) should be there, and holding the straps snug. There are different kinds -- the ones with "doors" are the most often broken.
- There should be a little rubber band above the male chin buckle, and around some sliders. These can be hard to see as the original ones are black and very small, and sometimes get pulled into the buckle.
Would you wear it? Try it on. How does it fit? (don't bother buckling it). After putting a few on, you'll know whether to put it in either the LARGE or SMALL basket (don't worry about this part too much).