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Ski Helmet Buyer's FAQ

Q: I would feel safer wearing a helmet. What kind of helmet would you recommend?
A: A helmet designed for recreational snowsports. There are a variety of helmets available that conform to the newly adopted American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2040. It is important that any helmet be properly fitted and that it not uncomfortably restrict your vision or hearing. Read the helmet manufacturer's information and learn about what level of protection a particular helmet will provide. All models are not the same and do not provide the same level of protection.

Q: If I buy a helmet, what are some tips to assist me in my purchase?
A: The most important consideration when purchasing a helmet is the fit. A helmet is not a piece of equipment that you want to purchase too small or too large to grow into. If a helmet doesn't fit correctly, it may not perform to its ability in the event of an accident. When shopping for a helmet, bring along your goggles, or borrow pair that matches your own from the shop. Make sure your entire forehead (above eyebrows to hairline) is covered by your helmet or goggles, because if there's a gap on your forehead between your helmet and your goggles, this exposed area can get cold and wet on snowy days. Unlike a hat, a helmet can't be amended or "pushed down" to keep your forehead warm. Look for a helmet that is engineered to work well with goggles or provides its own integrated goggles. It's important for a helmet to work with goggles and glasses to maintain vision, airflow and comfort. Lastly, make sure the helmet conforms to a ski/snowboard helmet standard (Common European Norm, American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and/or Snell.) Ask an experienced ski shop associate to assist you to identify the best brand for your head shape and confirm a proper fit.

Q: Should I consider renting a helmet before purchasing one? Where can I rent one?
A: Many ski areas rent helmets (Most of the National Ski Areas Association's member resorts rent helmets), but not all ski areas. Therefore, you should contact the ski area you plan to visit in advance to see whether they provide helmet rentals. Likewise, many ski shops also rent helmets, but call first to confirm. Renting a helmet prior to purchasing one is a matter of personal choice. The benefit would be that renting a helmet would give you a feel and understanding of a manufacturer's helmet's performance features, as well as allowing you to make your own distinctions about the benefits. You can see how it feels to wear a helmet and if you're comfortable in doing so.

Q: Why do helmets vary in cost so much? Is one helmet as safe as another?
A: Several factors affect the price of a helmet, including: materials, design, graphics and temperature maintenance systems. It's recommended that your helmet meets the ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) standard. The fit of the helmet is very important with regard to its providing the appropriate protection. At this time, ski helmet prices will continue to fluctuate because ski helmets are a fairly young industry in the United States. Over time, the price points will begin to better reflect the real differences in quality, comfort and style.

Q: Are there helmets specifically designed for snowsports or can my child wear his or her bicycle helmet?
A: If you or your children wear a helmet while bicycling, it's great to see that you're already safety conscious. Likewise, it's probably a good idea to wear a helmet on the slopes- it really comes down to your acceptance of risk. Ski and snowboard helmets are specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding usage. Wearing another sport's helmet, such as a bicycle helmet, may or may not afford you adequate protection.

Ski and snowboard helmets are insulated for cold weather and bicycle helmets provide more ventilation than ski helmets. A ski and snowboard helmet should provide better coverage and impact protection than wearing a bicycle helmet on the slopes.
Keep in mind that the risk of a potentially serious head injury on the slopes may be much lower than you think. Such injuries are actually less than 2.5 percent of all medically significant injuries in skiing, whereas for bicycle riders, the comparable number is 32 percent. However, the National Ski Areas Association encourages you to consider wearing a helmet on the slopes and educate yourself about a helmet's benefits and limitations.

Q: What else do parents need to know?
Your child should be familiar with and/or memorize the "Your Responsibility Code," the seven rules of slope safety.CLICK HERE FOR YOUR RESPONSIBILITY CODE. Slope safety and personal responsibility should be discussed prior to hitting the slopes.
2. A helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing a head injury from a fall or other impacts. However, no helmet can protect the wearer against all foreseeable impacts and injuries to the head. Emphasize to your child to "use their head and ski and/or snowboard responsibly."
3. A helmet's fit is most important. It's helpful to have an experienced sales person assist your child with fit. Know your child's head circumference. You can learn this by using a tailor's measuring tape and measure your child's head above the ears and right above the eyebrows (widest part of the head from the front to the back). A properly fit helmet will be comfortable with no pressure points. A helmet is not an item that you want to grow into.
4. When shopping for a helmet, bring your goggles with you to make sure they will fit with the helmet you choose.
5. When buying a helmet consider choosing one that meets the ASTM 2040 standard. This should be printed on the helmet's literature.
6. Several factors that affect a helmet's price include graphics, weight, style, etc. Helmets cost in the range of $60 to $150.
7. Enroll your child in ski school because they will master the sport more easily with instruction and learn great habits early on.

Information courtesy of LidsonKids.org.