Making Sure Your School Is Using Updated Football Helmets

July 15, 2020

In South Carolina high schools, players come and go but helmets get passed on to new players every season, year after year. There is some information that you as the parent of a South Carolina high school football player should know regarding the helmets your child is wearing.

Which Helmets Are the Best At Preventing Concussions?

A new football helmet is certified by the National Operating Committee for Sports Equipment, (NOCSAE) to meet all performance standards the second it leaves the factory. However, it’s not known which helmet is best at preventing concussions.

NOCSAE has said in various statements that they believe every helmet they have certified does a good job at reducing the number of head injuries but that there are variables that could contribute to concussions that are not related to the design and performance of the helmets.

In recent years, new football helmet designs have been tested and certified by the NOCSAE and the many manufacturers believe their helmets are safe and that each of them has unique benefits.

How Can I Tell if My Child’s Helmet is NOCSAE Certified?

The NOCSAE doesn’t have any specific requirements for recertification or reconditioning of football helmets on any specific schedule or frequency – except for the state of California which requires annual inspections.

Additionally, there isn’t a state law or regulation that requires a high school football helmet to be recertified or reconditioned with any frequency. The NOCSAE standard that requires inspections of all football helmets and shoulder pads is every two years, and this requirement has been adopted by every state, including South Carolina, that plays under the National Federation of State High School Associations and NCAA rules.

Additionally, the NOCSAE recommends that helmets should be cleaned and inspected regularly and that each school should have its own reconditioning and recertification program.

A manufacturer may promise warranty coverage if the helmets are regularly reconditioned and recertified by that requirement isn’t mandated by the NOCSAE.

Also, the manufacturer of the helmet can limit the number of times a helmet can be reconditioned, or it can establish a ‘useful life’ guideline after which point the helmet can no longer be reconditioned.

It’s important to note that Xenith, Schutt, Riddell, and Adams, all manufacturers of football helmets “strongly recommends that every football helmet should be reconditioned annually but not less than every two years by a company which is licensed by the NOCSAE.”

The national governing bodies of high school and youth football, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and USA Football, only require that your child’s football helmet leave the factory with NOCSAE certification.

As a result, football helmets of any age can be worn despite any concerns you and others may have about the safety of the helmet to protect your child from head injuries including concussions.

How Can I Tell if My Child’s Helmet is NOCSAE Certified? 

The helmets that meet the NOCSAE’s standards must have a seal that says, “Meets NOCSAE Standards,” and a logo for that type of helmet. Both the logo and the seal must be permanently branded or stamped on the outside rear portion of the football helmet.

Additionally, all NOCSAE certified football helmets must have a standard warning label attached to the inside or outside of the shell of the helmet that tells the safety and proper use of the helmet.

How Long Can A Football Helmet Be Used in South Carolina High Schools?

Some of the manufacturers of football helmets list a shelf life for their helmets but others don’t. Riddell has a 10-year shelf life for their helmets, and once they turn 10 years old they must be reconditioned. The re-conditioner will completely take apart the helmet and send the shell back to the school showing that they have been destroyed.

On the other hand, Schutt Sports has no shelf-life for their football helmets. They believe that the shell of the helmet is fine until the parts inside the helmet need to be replaced or the shell is cracked which could be between 12-16 years.

As of July 29, 2014, a study of concussions by high school football researchers at the University of Wisconsin determined that the age or recondition of helmets was not associated with a lower risk of sport-related concussions. It’s also noted that since 2013, most helmet manufacturers recommend that football helmets be reconditioned yearly.

If your child has suffered a concussion due to a faulty or unmaintained football helmet in South Carolina, you should contact Charleston concussion attorney, David Aylor. He will evaluate your case and advise you of the next steps that need to be taken to protect your child.

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