Monday, June 28, 2010
7 News Investigations: Risky Ride
Riding our bikes is something we can enjoy year round here in South Florida. And for many of us, a must-have piece of equipment is a bike helmet. But if your helmet is more than a few years old, you may be taking a risky ride. 7's Lynn Martinez has the story.
WSVN -- Whether you ride for fun or you're a little more serious about it, a lot of folks don't step on the pedals until after they clip on their bike helmet. But did you know that bike helmets have a shelf life?
Dorothy Isriel: "No. I had no idea. How long are they good for and why? I have no idea."
Dorothy Isriel wants to make sure her son, 11-year old Zack, is safe when he rides.
Dorothy Isriel: "I think I've had bike helmets for five years, six years since the kids started wearing them."
Which means her son's helmet is well past the point of providing the best protection.
David Berger, Co-owner, Bikes to Go: "Bike helmets usually have a life of three to five years, based on the manufacturer."
David Berger co-owns Bikes to Go in South Miami. He says, after three to five years, the materials inside the helmet begin to break down.
David Berger: "They have a plastic shell that covers some of the styrofoam, and underneath that shell, you could have a crack that you don't see."
Those weaknesses can leave your head vulnerable.
David Berger: "If you hit the helmet there again, it's not going to protect the way it should."
Sometimes, you can plainly see the damage, like on this child's helmet.
David Berger: "If you look at it carefully, it has a lot of nicks inside the styrofoam, a lot of denting, a lot of holes."
If you turn it over and check the manufacturing date, it says Jan. 1, 2003. That means, it expired at least two years ago, in January of 2008.
David Berger: "Cracks definitely could be hidden underneath the plastic cap without knowing it."
This yellow helmet looks like it's in pretty good shape, but looks can be deceiving.
David Berger: "If you actually feel the styrofoam, it's a little mushier than the new ones, and this one actually has a manufacturing date of October of 1997."
You heard right: October 1997. That means, it expired nearly eight years ago, in October of 2002.
David Berger: "So this was definitely an older helmet. Definitely needed to be replaced."
Ray Berrayarza has been riding for more than 25 years. He updates his helmet every year, no matter what.
Ray Berrayarza: "Since I ride a lot, the helmet gets worn. It gets dirty. You just want to change it."
This mom had no idea that bike helmets expire and got an unpleasant surprise.
Cathleen Lamar: "What is the date?"
Miguel Lamar: "October '07."
Cathleen Lamar: "October '07. Miguel and his dad went to buy this for me for Mother's Day. It's brand new, but it was already expired. I'm going to take this one, which is brand new, back to the expensive bike store."
It's a valuable lesson to avoid a risky ride.
Dorothy Isriel: "We do all this trying to protect our kids. So if we're going to the trouble of buying bike helmets, I kind of would like to know what we're supposed to be doing. What we need to be on top of."
Lynn Martinez: "The experts add, the helmets are good for only one head impact. So if you've had an accident, replace your bike helmet right away."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Bikes To Go