Hockey Helmet Safety and Certification
Do Hockey Helmets Expire?
Yes, certified-safe hockey helmets have an expiration date, as do hockey eye and face
protectors. All hockey helmets and eye and face protectors are certified and assigned an expiration date
(the date on which the certification expires) by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC, pronounced
"heck"), based on performance standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and
Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The HECC certification is good for 6 ½
years—that's how long accredited testing has shown hockey helmets provide the expected
protection for players.
Why is Hockey Helmet Certification Necessary?
Over time and through regular use and repeated impacts, tests have shown that helmets lose protective
qualities. That's why when HECC certification expires, consider a new hockey helmet. Also consider replacing the
helmet and face and eye protector if you see any visible cracks in the plastic outer shell (that means the shell
won't dissipate the force of an impact the way it's designed to), or if the gear no longer fits the player. To
work properly and protect the player, a helmet must fit properly.
Who the HECC?
HECC describes itself as "an independent volunteer organization for the purpose of selecting standards
including test methods and other requirements for certifying playing equipment used in the sport of ice hockey."
The HECC certification sticker is usually found on the back of the helmet or protective
equipment, and the product literature will tell you more about the HECC certification.
Rest assured, the HECC label shows that the helmet and eye and face protectors you purchase are certified for
use—for 6 ½ years. Go to hecc.net to see a list of approved products before you make a purchase.
When is Hockey Helmet Certification Required?
According to information from HECC, certified safety equipment is required in any USA Hockey sanctioned league
or event for players up to age 21 or any player in high school playing under the Federation of High School
rules; players in the NCAA must have a HECC certified facemask with a hockey helmet or HECC certified goalie
helmet and facemask. A full-face shield or cage is required for high school, college, and all players under 18.
Always check hockey league rules for safety equipment requirements.
Sizing and Fitting Hockey Helmets
When you buy a new hockey helmet, you want to ensure the helmet and eye and face
protectors fit properly. The helmet shouldn't be loose and tip back and forth or side to side on the head, but
should fit snugly and securely particularly when the chin strap is fastened. It should be snug at the brow line,
crown, and temples. If the helmet feels too tight and pinches or squeezes, adjust it according to product
instructions. Or maybe it's time for a new one—growing players outgrow helmets, of course.
Also, make sure the eye or face protector stays securely in place on the helmet. Follow the product
instructions when mounting the eye or face protector and adjust the helmet fit as needed.
Important note: Purchasing used helmets and eye and face protectors is NOT
recommended, even if the expiration date hasn't passed, as you won't know how many impacts the gear sustained or
how severe they were. Also, certifications are void on any resale.
What are Hockey Helmets Made Of?
Helmets are made of high-impact resistant plastic called vinyl nitrate (VN) that disperses force from the point
of contact. The liner is made of padding that's usually adjustable for the best fit; this is either vinyl
nitrile foam or expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam, which further dampens or dissipates the force of impacts.
Hockey helmets often have removable liners of soft foam or gel pads for a comfortable yet secure fit.
Play Safe, Be Protected
Today, a hockey helmet is standard and accepted equipment to guard against flying sticks and hockey pucks,
falls on the ice, or impacts with other players or the boards. A hockey helmet cannot prevent a concussion, but
a properly fitted helmet will protect the wearer and help mitigate the outcome of an impact to some degree.
Helmet and eye and face protectors are continually improved by manufacturers, so stay tuned to this site for
gear updates. Pure Hockey always offers the most current HECC-certified hockey safety equipment and we want to
see you and your loved ones on skates for many years to come.
Some Hockey Helmet History
Hockey as a professional sport dates back to around the early 1900s, and helmets did not become required
equipment (believe it or not!) for players joining the National Hockey League (NHL) until 1979. "The
introduction of the helmet rule will be an additional safety factor," said then-NHL President John Ziegler.
Players under contract with an NHL team who preferred not to wear a helmet at that time could sign a liability
waiver. Nowadays, all NHL players wear helmets and
eye and face protection, and well-known players such as Mark Messier and others have helped design modern
helmets. By the way, the first hockey helmet is credited to Barney Stanley in 1927, whose prototype was
nevertheless rejected by the NHL. Serious injuries among players prompted some league players to start wearing
helmets in 1933, though intermittently. That intermittent use continued until the 1979 NHL rule change requiring