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Ski Helmet User's FAQ

Q: Will my child be safer if she wears a helmet?
A: Helmets can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury from falls or other impacts. They are most effective at slower speeds. Be sure to have your child properly fitted for a helmet if you decide that he or she should wear one. And don't forget to teach your child to ski or snowboard responsibly and to be familiar with the "Your Responsibility Code," the seven safety rules of the slopes.

Q: How much protection can a helmet give me?
A: Helmets do have limits and users need to be aware of them. However, a helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury and many skiers and snowboarders today are choosing to wear them. Helmets are designed to reduce the severity of head injuries, but they are most effective at providing protection from a direct blow to the head at speeds of 12 mph or slower. Keep in mind, if you lose control and hit a tree, object or another skier at moderate or high speed, a helmet may not prevent or reduce a serious injury. It's important that the user doesn't think that he can take more risks because he's wearing a helmet and therefore will be more protected. This is known as a false sense of security. The user, whether wearing a helmet or not, should always ski responsibly and within his or her ability.

Q: Why are helmets becoming more popular?
A: Helmets are gaining in their popularity and sales increase each year. According to the Snowsports Industries America, the trade association that represents ski and snowboard manufacturers, during the 2001-2002, there were 637,757 helmets sold. During 2000-2001 there were 535,288 helmets sold and during the 1999-2000 season, there were 524,671 helmets sold. Helmets today are light weight, have neat designs, provide a great comfort and help keep the ears warm on cold days! Children have lots of fun putting cool stickers on their helmets. For parents, outfitting your children for a helmet provides a peace of mind that you're doing all you can to help ensure a safe ski or snowboard experience for your kids while they're enjoying the slopes.

Q: If I fall or hit a tree or a rock while skiing, will a helmet protect me from getting hurt?
A: A helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury and many skiers and snowboarders today are choosing to wear them. Keep in mind, if you lose control and should hit a tree, rock, another object or another skier at moderate or high speed, a helmet may not always prevent or reduce a serious injury. It's best not to put yourself in a situation where you're depending on a helmet to avoid an injury.

Q: Why should wearing a helmet be a matter of personal choice?
A: While helmets may help reduce the incidences and severity of head injuries in the event of a blow to the head, they shouldn't be perceived as a panacea for slope safety. What's most important is for you to follow the "Your Responsibility Code," the safety rules of the slopes. Slope safety education and personal responsibility are key to long-term slope safety.

The National Ski Areas Association encourages guests to consider wearing helmets because they are often helpful in reducing injury. However, they should be viewed as a second line of defense. Skiing safely and in control is the first line of defense. Some data suggest that increases in helmet usage can actually increase overall injury rates, as users develop a false sense of security and take more risks. For example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a study in July 2001 finding that while bicycle helmet usage is up and ridership is declining, head injuries among bicyclists are increasing. The latest data on ski helmets shows that while usage is up, head injuries have not decreased, and the severity of head injuries is significantly greater among the helmeted population than the non-helmeted population.

Q: Are skiing and snowboarding as safe as they used to be? Few people used to wear a helmet. Is a helmet a key piece of safety equipment today?
A: Skiing and snowboarding have always had some risks, but they also have an excellent safety record. Skiers and snowboarders have less than a one in a million chance of being seriously injured or dying on the slopes. Serious head injuries account for only 2.6 percent of overall skiing/snowboarding injuries. Each skier or snowboarder's behavior has as much or more to do with the safety of the sports as does any piece of equipment. Following "Your Responsibility Code" is the key to promoting your and others' safety. If you choose to wear a helmet or use other types of equipment to protect yourself, be sure you understand the limits and proper use of that equipment. Don't let safety equipment give you a false sense of security.

Information courtesy of LidsonKids.org