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The air is getting crisper, the leaves are changing their colors, and football season has begun. For many families, the autumn sports season is chock-full of after-school practice and weekend games. While kids are getting excited to join the JV team, parents might be wondering if their child is ready for contact sports like tackle football. In light of these concerns, and in honor of National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, Steamboat Emergency Center wants to talk about the important role of helmets in football, and how they can keep your kids safe at practice and games.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

To begin, we want to talk about traumatic brain injuries, and what they look like. Of course, every parent and coach worries about head injuries and no one wants any child on the field to get hurt. Accidents happen, though, and sometimes there is a risk for serious injuries, like concussions, on the football field.

Make sure you know what the symptoms for traumatic brain injuries are so that you will know when to take action:

  • Persistent headache
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sleep trouble
  • Change in behavior and mood
  • Numbness or tingling in limbs.

If you notice these symptoms, or other strange behaviors after a child hits their head, then you should seek immediate medical care. Traumatic brain injuries can be very serious and need to be treated.

How Helmets Help

Naturally, having protection around a child’s head will help them stay safe when they’re playing. Football helmets are designed with interior padding and an exterior hard shell to provide an armored cushion effect around your child’s skull. The hard shell of the helmet helps to deflect the force of impact while the padding makes sure your child’s head isn’t hit or jostled too much.

Helmets act as the layer of safety between football players and head injuries, so they are one of the most important pieces of sports equipment for children in sports. So when you’re finding a helmet, make sure you take the time to find the right one.

Finding the Best Helmets

When you’re shopping for a football helmet, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have your little MVP with you! Whichever helmet you buy them needs to be sized correctly to fit them comfortably, and there is no better way than to have them try helmets on. But, to help speed up the process, you can take some head measurements of your child’s head. Using a soft tape measure, you can measure the circumference of your child’s head. The most accurate way to measure this is if you place the tape measure just above their eyebrows and ears.

Next, check how it fits. Ask your child questions about how it feels, even let your child try shaking their head back and forth (it can make helmet shopping feel like a fun game while also testing to make sure the fit is correct). Helmets should fit securely over the head, with interior padding pressed comfortably against their head. The helmet shouldn’t shift or move when your head does, and it should not be removeable when the chin strap is secured.

To know if a helmet not only fits securely, but is providing the right amount of coverage, check to see what it covers. A good helmet will have ear holes lining up with your child’s ears so that there is no need to push it further back or pull it forward on their head. The pad in the front of the helmet should cover until the middle of the forehead, and the back of the helmet should cover the entirety of the back of the head. Your child should always be able to see when they’re wearing it, so if a helmet impedes your child’s vision, it might be too big.

Finally, the last thing you want to check when shopping for a helmet is to make sure it is NOCSAE approved. NOCSAE stands for ‘National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment,’ and this organization sets the standards for sport safety. Sports equipment that passes the NOCSAE tests is marked with ‘Meets NOCSAE Standard’ somewhere on the packaging or product. Check for these notifications when you’re finding your child’s helmet.

Caring for Your Helmet

Once you’ve found the best helmet, you want to make sure it is well taken care of. Football helmets can be used for 10 years at most, but that is only so long as they stay in good condition and fit. If your child has been playing football since they were 10, and they’re preparing for high school, they have likely outgrown their helmet and you should look into getting a new one.

Taking care of a football helmet is pretty simple, it just requires a bit of attention. Make sure you don’t leave the helmet in any cars, where it might get overheated or super chilled depending on the weather. Keep it clean, don’t put things on top of it that might put pressure on the helmet’s shell, and don’t add any paint or decorations that might tamper with a helmet’s coating.

If your child ever gets cracks in their helmet, then you need to get a new one immediately. Cracked helmets are not safe for use in sports. Only a licensed Safety Equipment Institute can recondition helmets for new use, so when you are dealing with a cracked helmet, keep it in mind that simple home remedies do not meet safety standards.


During Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, many parents might be worried about their little football star’s risk of injury, and we understand. Choosing the right helmet can be one of the biggest steps your family takes towards head safety. Steamboat Emergency Center is here to support your family 24/7, with concierge-level emergency care for all ages. We’re excited to see how great this year’s football season will be!

Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Steamboat Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.