Life is full of risks. When skateboarding, most of us generally accept the fact that we are exposing ourselves to a greater risk than normal. Yet most of us, obviously, find skateboarding worthwhile enough where the benefits outweigh the risks. Many people will forgo the use of a helmet purely out of laziness, and yet others because they think it looks bad, or implies timidness. Regardless of what others think, it's always in your best interest to use a cranial cage. If you want to be able to keep your brain functioning properly, slap on a skull cap. The brain is very sensitive and NOT something you want to mess up as injuries are often irreversible or can end in death.
Wearing a skateboarding helmet can also help you not have your favorite skate spot get blown. Suiting up while skating projects the image of a responsible shredder; the type of skater the average person wouldn't really mind having in their neighborhoods. People often will remark on how dangerous our activities look, and I always tell them, that with the proper safety gear and a responsible approach, skateboarding can actually be quite safe. I emphasize that helmets are always a must, as are slide gloves. I think it never hurts to mention that we use our slides to control our speed. By ripping it, we're actually practicing being safe on steep grades! Helmets are also one of the cheapest things you can get to protect one of the most expensive investments people make: their educations.
Speaking of education, let's talk about helmet certifications! There are two main ones to look for: The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM Certification) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC Certification). The ASTM F1492-08 certification covers skateboarding, among other things, and the CPSC certification is intended more for bicycling. Because of this, if the choice has to be made, I would recommend an ASTM certified helmet over a CPSC certified helmet. However, be mindful of your local and state laws as some areas don't make a skateboarding and biking distinction. Many helmets on the market out there are dual certified, meaning they pass both the ASTM F1492-08 skateboarding requirements as well as the CPSC bike requirements. It's also good to look for a helmet with good coverage of the base of your skull, because high-siding on toeside slides is never fun.
Getting an ASTM or CPSC certified helmet could very well make all the difference in saving your life. Also, keep in mind that many helmets are rated for single impacts and should be replaced after any impact. In addition, the thicker, "beer cooler" foam inside helmets can actually degrade over time, so it is also a good idea to periodically replace your lid.
A while back, I was meeting up with my skate club at our local parking garage, and I'd just gotten hooked up with the then-unreleased Gunmetal trucks 46 degree base plates and I was super eager to try them out. After throwing them on my board at the garage, I hopped on just to test them out with a simple standup 180 – without bothering to throw on my half-shell. I'm not entirely sure what happened after that, but I messed it up pretty bad, and next thing I knew, I was on the ground coming out of a blackout with all my buddies around me. It was pretty freaky because I remembered initiating the slide, but after it was like waking up from a super deep sleep to see everyone above me and I'm lying on the floor of the parking garage. I was fine, I got lucky and didn't get a concussion, but my homies told me I was out on the ground, dead still, for like 10 seconds, then I started to twitch like crazy for another 10 seconds, then went still again until I finally came to. The whole ordeal felt like it was over in a split second for me, which really emphasized the need to be prepared with a helmet before mounting the board. Ever since, I've taken helmets much more seriously when I'm skating, because it's not worth it to lose the time or ability to skate (not to mention personal well-being!), due to not doing something so simple as wearing a helmet.
Nick Li- Stoked team rider