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We always hear about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle, motorcycle, scooters and skateboards, but we rarely consider the importance of wearing one when skiing or snowboarding. Skiing and snowboarding are considered high intensity sports and participating in these sports can lead to serious injuries. According to The New York Times, wearing a helmet when skiing has reduced head injuries such as fractured skulls, facial lacerations and head lacerations by 50%.

Research shows that in 2003 only 25% of individuals were wearing helmets when hitting the slopes. In 2013, the number had gone up to 70%. The number of head injuries on the slopes has not declined, but the severity of those injuries has improved. Although ski resorts don’t require the use of a helmet, The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) advocates the use of helmets, especially for children. The NSAA states that helmets may be the difference between a major and minor head injury. This is especially important for developing children.

Wearing a helmet while skiing is vital for children. Children can generate high speeds with little control. They have less developed motor control and decision-making skills necessary to stay safe. Children are not able to determine distance, speed and when to brake, unlike fully developed adults. This is true for sledding as well. Studies show that head trauma accounts for 34% of injuries from sledding. Children also run the risk of being struck by a skier or snowboarder that is much bigger, heavier and faster, which can result in serious injuries.

Last month an 8-year-old boy died during a ski accident in Connecticut. The young boy attempted to drop into a half pipe that was 3-4 feet tall. The boy’s legs and feet came out from underneath him and he struck his head on the inside of the half pipe. He died of blunt impact injury to the head and his skull was fractured. He was not wearing a helmet.

Consider the following when skiing or riding:

  • For every 10,000 people on the slopes, three people will sustain a head injury requiring medical attention.
  • 30-50 percent of head injuries can be reduced by helmets. Wearing a helmet may be the difference between life and death.
  • Alpine skiers are three times more likely than a snowboarder to be involved in a collision.