Should helmets be mandatory on the slopes?
The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) is calling for mandatory helmet use for all skiers and snowboarders regardless of age.
In 2010-2011, there were more than 2,300 people admitted to hospitals because of a skiing or snowboarding accident; one third were young people ages 10 to 19.
Dr. Natalie Yanchar, chair of the CPS Injury Prevention Committee, point outs that just because a person is an experienced skier or snowboarder doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk for injury. “They can’t control external factors like the terrain or other skiers who might not be as experienced,” she said. “The risk is especially high for children and youth, who have increased vulnerability to head injuries and may take longer to recover.”
The CPS says provincial governments should make helmets mandatory on the slopes to reduce the risk of injury, disability and even death. The association offers the following safety recommendations (the full report can be found on the CPS website, www.cps.ca.):
- Wear the proper equipment including a helmet and goggles, plus wrist guards for snowboarding.
- Check equipment at the start of each ski day to ensure that the boots fit and that bindings are adjusted correctly.
- Avoid borrowing equipment and only rent from a reputable ski shop or resort.
- Take lessons from a certified instructor.
- Never ski or snowboard alone.
And if your children are tobogganing or tubing, a new study suggests it is safer for them to wear a hockey helmet instead of a ski helmet. The study, from the University of Ottawa and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, shows that hockey helmets performed better in most crashes. And even bicycle helmets performed better than ski helmets. But the researchers also noted that any helmet is better than no helmet – currently only five per cent of kids wear them when tobogganing.