Wearing a protective helmet when practising snow sports is a wise choice since it reduces the risk and seriousness of certain head injuries. But beware, you still have to be careful… A helmet is not armour and should not encourage you to take more risks. The best protection against accidents is knowing and respecting your limits and the Mountain Code of Conduct and Alpine Responsibility Code. The golden rule is control!
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 snowboarders 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 regardi