Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Can I Buy a Used Helmet at a Yard Sale?

Summary: You probably should not buy a used helmet at a yard sale or thrift shop. Damage may not be evident. Cheap helmets are available new. But if you really can't afford one, a used helmet is better than nothing.

Buying a used helmet at a yard sale is tempting when the price may only be a dollar or two. But it is difficult to assess the condition of the helmet and the standards it may or may not meet.

At a minimum, a yard sale helmet must be uncrashed and have a sticker inside saying it meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. (Some older ones did not.)

That sounds simple, but bear in mind that:

Brand-new decent helmets meeting the CPSC standard are available at Target and Wal-Mart for $10, their everyday price. (We have a page up on inexpensive helmets for promotion programs. Some of those companies will deal with consumers too.) The yard sale price should be lower, but you have to inspect the helmet very carefully, and you may want to put it aside for two weeks in a plastic bag to be sure that any lice eggs are no longer viable. If you can't afford the $10 helmet, a carefully inspected yard sale purchase is certainly a lot better than riding without one.

If you are checking this page because you want to get rid of an old helmet, you might want to see our page on recycling helmets.