Saturday’s Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day is being marked around the world with leading helmet manufacturers offering special discounts on safety headgear.
Hundreds of retailers in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, Switzerland, the US, and Wales are joining in the cause.
And although the day gives equestrians the chance to buy a new hat at a lower price, that’s not all it is about. The riders4helmets campaign was founded as a direct result of dressage Olympian Courtney King-Dye’s accident from which she suffered brain injury and left her in a coma for several weeks. She was not wearing a hat at the time of the accident, and is still undergoing rehabilitation.
“The impact that riders4helmets is making makes my struggle worthwhile,” said King-Dye, who advocates for equestrian safety in partnership with riders4helmets. “It’s educating people to not make the same mistake that I did.”
In 2013 the FEI invited riders4helmets to partner with them on a global safety initiative, and the FEI promoted the campaign when sharing information about their new hat rule which went into effect on January 1, 2013.
Riders4helmets’ mission is to educate equestrians on all aspects of hat safety. Education starts at the choice to put a hat on your head, but it doesn’t stop there. Equestrians also need to be educated on the need for properly securing hats and replacing them at the appropriate time.
As 2014’s IHAD nears, riders4helmets Lyndsey White shared these ten important messages that all riders should remember.
- If you have a hard impact blow while wearing your hat, immediately replace it with a new hat. There may be damage to the hat that is not visible to the naked eye.
- Hat manufacturers generally recommend replacing your hat every 4-5 years. Hats take a beating over time from sweat, heat, dust and rain, and the Styrofoam in the hat relinquishes its ability to protect the head over time. “So, replacing your hat sooner than 4 to 5 years may in some circumstance be necessary,” said White.
- A ponytail or different hairstyle can affect the fit of your hat. When you try on hats before buying, wear your hair in the style that you expect to wear when riding.
- If you purchase your hat online, check the date of manufacture. Purchasing a used hat can be very risky and is NOT recommended. The hat may have sustained previous damage that you aren’t able to see.
- There is no statistical correlation between skill level and injury likelihood. Professional riders are just as at risk to sustain injury due to a fall as less frequent riders.
- Even a fall from a standing horse can be catastrophic. Your injury risk depends on the height from which you fall, as well as the speed at which you’re traveling.
- Head injuries are cumulative. An original head injury can be made much worse by additional concussions.
- Riding is considered more dangerous than downhill skiing and motorcycling.
- About 20% of accidents which result in head injury happen while the person is on the ground.
- It is best if you invest in your own hat regardless of whether or not you own a horse. “It is a personal purchase. Your hat is designed to fit your head,” reminds White. As incorrectly fitting hat offers very little, to no protection. In addition to wearing a correctly fitting hat, you must have the harness correctly fastened on your hat. If the harness is not fitting snugly, the hat can rotate should you have a fall and thus not be able to protect your head to its fullest intention.
Riders looking to buy a hat can visit riders4helmets.com/ihad to find retailers near them who are participating in International Helmet Awareness Day (IHAD).
Follow the campaign on social media at facebook.com/riders4helmets, http://twitter.com/riders4helmets, instagram.com/riders4helmets, and pinterest.com/riders4helmets/. Use #ihad to share your photos and updates.