Why Wear a Helmet?
Canadian Ski Council Ski Helmet Policy Statement
The Canadian Ski Council recommends wearing helmets for skiing and riding. Skiers and snowboarders are encouraged to educate themselves on the benefits and limitations of helmet usage. The primary safety consideration, and obligation under the Alpine Responsibility Code, is to ski and ride in a controlled and responsible manner.
The Canadian ski industry has invested in all aspects of the sport to make it as safe as possible in an attempt to minimize injuries. However, the sport takes place in a challenging and exciting outdoor environment, which is a large part of why people ski. Helmets can help reduce the risk and severity of injuries in many situations, but cannot prevent injuries when skiers and snowboarders ski excessively fast or out of control. Skiers and snowboarders who ignore the Alpine Responsibility Code put themselves, and others, at greater risk.
Ski helmet usage is increasing through education programs and awareness of the benefits of wearing a helmet. The Canadian Ski Council and its member regional ski area operator associations (Canada West Ski Areas Association, Ontario Snow Resorts Association, Quebec Ski Areas Association and Atlantic Ski Area Association) will continue to promote helmet usage and provide educational materials that identify the benefits and limitations of helmets. Helmets are available for rent or sale at all ski areas across Canada.
The Canadian Ski Council will continue to work with partners in government and other organizations to make skiing and snowboarding as safe as possible. Educating skiers and snowboarders about participating safely is the proper solution to minimizing injuries.
1) Canadian ski areas and Ski Associations have achieved significant success in promoting helmet usage amongst Skiers and Snowboarders.
Snow sports helmet usage in Canada increased from 32% in 2002-2003 to 83.1% in 2011-2012.
Helmet usage amongst young Canadian skiers & boarders is now approaching 100%:
-95.5% of children under 14 wear helmets.
Source: Canadian Ski Council
2) Snow sports helmet usage should be a matter of personal choice.
We believe that skiers & boarders are capable of making responsible choices with respect to their safety on the ski slopes.
3) A snow sports helmet is only one component of a safe approach to skiing & boarding.
The Alpine Responsibility Code promotes ten safety practices that collectively help maximize the potential for safe skiing & boarding.
We believe that promoting a comprehensive set of safe skiing and snowboarding practices is a more effective approach to maximizing safety than legislation of a single safety measure (e.g. snow sports helmets).
4) Snow sports helmets are only designed to provide protection against lower speed collisions.
Ski Helmets are certified to provide protection at speeds up to 23 km/h (Snell RS-98 & ASTM). However, skiers & boarders often ski & ride at speeds greater than this.
For more information about helmet usage in Canada, please contact Patrick Arkeveld, President and CEO Canadian Ski Council at 705-445-9140 or the ski area operator association in your region including: David Lynn, President and CEO at Canada West Ski Areas Association (778-484-5535), Bruce Haynes, President and CEO at Ontario Snow Resorts Association (705-443-5450), Claude Peloquin, President at Quebec Ski Areas Association (450-765-2012 ext 107) or Leslie Wilson, President at Atlantic Ski Area Association (902-548-2089 x 223).
This policy has been endorsed by the following organizations: Canada West Ski Areas Association, Atlantic Ski Area Association, Ontario Snow Resorts Association, Quebec Ski Areas Association, Canadian Ski Patrol System.
For more comfort and protection, you should not wear a pompom tuque or any other rigid accessory under your helmet. A thin hat or cap is sufficient to stay nice and warm!
Dr. Rob's Top Ten Tips for Using and Wearing Helmets
When Skiing and Snowboarding by Robert Williams, MD
Robert Williams, MD, is a pediatric anesthesiologist and associate director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Vermont Children's Hospital and associate professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He is also an avid skier and snowboarder and serves as a medical associate for the Smugglers' Notch Ski Patrol.
Ski and snowboard as if you weren't wearing a helmet.
All skiers and boarders should ride responsibly and in control at all times. Helmets may help prevent head injuries in the event of certain types of accidents, but are of little help in high-speed, head-on injuries and offer no protection against neck and other types of injuries.
Use a helmet designed specifically for skiing or snowboarding.
Bike helmets are designed with different impact characteristics and different areas of protection than ski and snowboard helmets and should never be worn as a substitute for a snow sports helmet. In addition to appropriate safety design, ski helmets offer advantages, such as warmth and an integrated fit with goggles.
Take time to ensure the helmet fits properly.
Snow sports helmets are not something to grow into. The helmet must fit properly to function safely. In addition, a helmet that is an uncomfortable fit will end up not being worn. Consult a knowledgeable salesperson at a reputable store regarding appropriate fit for a helmet and to get any questions answered.
Buy a helmet that meets industry standards.
There are various helmet standards in place including CEN (the least rigorous standard), ASTM, Snell and RS-98 (far and away the most rigorous and hard to meet standard for certification). Be sure to review product literature for the helmet to find out which standard the helmet meets.
Adults should serve as role models for children.
Children pick up on hypocrisy at light speed. If parents expect their children to ski and ride responsibly and wear helmets, then they should do so as well. Any adult who wears a helmet will help encourage children to follow suit.
Establish a firm rule regarding helmet use and skiing/snowboarding.
If a parent decides that helmets should be worn, but the child is resistant, remember that it's O.K. to say no. Establish a rule, such as "No helmet equals no skiing or snowboarding." Most ski teams and academies have rules requiring helmet use in their athletes and the athletes accept these rules as a matter of course. Your child will adhere to this rule as well if it is presented in a polite, yet non-compromising manner.
Bring your child's or your goggles in when you buy your helmet.
Different goggles and helmets work together differently. A well-fitting system will provide great protection for the face and forehead from cold wind and snow and still allow adequate ventilation for the goggles.
Keep goggles and helmets attached together.
It is much harder to lose both a helmet and a set of goggles. Some parents may find they recoup the cost of the helmet by not having to replace lost goggles (and hats!) as often.
Provide incentives for good helmet behavior.
A number of professional skiers and snowboarders wear helmets and can serve as great role models. Help reinforce helmet wearing with such incentives as posters of winter sport celebrities who wear helmets, or gear worn by these celebrities.