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Helmets – Why Do You Need It When Riding
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Helmet is a French derivative of the word ‘helm’ from 15th century. Although helmets are available in countless designs for different utilities, they all serve just one purpose, which is head protection. The earlier helmets used to be manufactured in leather till the 10th century AD when metals with inner cloth lining for cushioning and comfort of wearing on the head became the norm. Helmet wearing is mandatory in northern America, barring a few states, for all bikers, whereas Sikhs are demanding a waiver from this mandate.
Functional Utility and Symbolism
Till the early 20th century, helmets were basically the protective head gears of soldiers and used to be a part of combat uniform. With industrialization, helmets reinvented themselves and undergone a lot of changes, both in terms of strengths and weights and became a ‘must wear’ for certain industrial workers in sectors such as mining, construction and manufacturing etc. Surely, the popularity of helmets shot-up, thanks to the symbolic protection they offered.
Helmets can be classified based on their utility and construction. The simplest for of helmets worn by construction workers and bicycle riders are nothing more than ‘hard hats’ as they are required to protect blunt impacts, whereas a soldier’s helmets are designed for ballistic impact protection. These are made by Kevlar©, which has excellent bullet proofing qualities and fragmentation powers.
Helmets match particular needs also. Military helmets identify the ranks of the wearers with symbolic visors and bars therein, whereas ‘hard hats’ of bicycle riders sport large ventilation slots.
Bikers and parents of small children are in dilemma concerning the sudden fall in children’s helmet prices. One must keep in mind that price is not a good quality indicator. In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires all helmets be certified. The certification is issued after stringent quality tests are carried out. There is another quality standard for helmets, too. Snell Memorial Foundation standards or ‘Snells’ as they are known are a bit extra stringent, albeit not compulsory by all types of helmet manufacturers to conform to. This fact should try to put at rest the apprehensions of consumers when they don’t see Snells’ label on helmets.
It is hard to think of a modern and adventurous sport without helmets being mandatory. Although helmets aren’t absolutely safe, you can’t think of cross country biking without them, especially if the riders are your little ones, helmets are a must!
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