By Deanna Power
For most skiers, mountains are some of the most relaxing or thrilling places in the world. Unfortunately, skiing can be a dangerous activity as well. Accidents happen to even the most experienced skiers, and while most don’t result in fatal or even severe injuries, you’ll want to do all you can to protect yourself from potential harm. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is by wearing a helmet. A good helmet can go a long way toward keeping you safe.
Ski Helmets and Visibility Concerns
Some good news is that more than 90% of children wear helmets when skiing, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Because children aren’t usually as skilled as adult skiers, this data shows parents are building a good foundation for safe skiing in the future.
The percentage of skiers who wear helmets drops into adulthood. Many adults mistakenly believe a ski helmet will reduce visibility and subsequently reaction time. People who believe this think a helmet would make accidents more likely.
Studies conducted by NSAA and Johns Hopkins University, among others, prove that nothing could be further from the truth. A proper ski helmet is designed and fitted in such a way that it doesn’t affect your vision. Instead, a ski helmet will greatly reduce the chances of a serious head injury.
Ski Accidents and Helmet Benefits
Head traumas can range from mild to severe and include everything from cuts, bumps, bruises, and concussions, all the way up to skull fractures or a traumatic brain injury. Even taking a light tumble against hard packed snow can cause injury to the head, which is why a helmet is such an important piece of any skier’s gear.
The most common head traumas that happen on the slopes are the less severe ones, and while these kinds of injuries are generally less frightening, they are nonetheless preventable in many cases. The New York Times reports that the increased use of ski helmets has reduced the incidence of skull fractures by as much as 50% in recent years.
Helmets are Catching On and Making a Difference
According to NSAA, in 2003 only about one quarter of all recreational skiers wore helmets. By 2013, the average helmet use at ski areas in the U.S. was up about 45%, with nearly 70% of skiers reporting regular use.
Although the greater number of people wearing helmets hasn’t decreased how frequently head injuries happen, it has lessened how many of those injuries are severe in nature. This is true especially for skull fractures and subdural hematomas, or bruising and bleeding inside the skull.
According to a 2011 study published in News Medical Journal, 5% of helmet wearers suffered skull fractures, as opposed to nearly 37% of non-helmeted skiers. Helmet use additionally influenced the severity of the fracture type, with non-helmeted skiers experienced a more dangerous, depressed skull fracture at rates about 60% higher those who wore helmets.
Other Safety Considerations
The benefits of helmet use have been the subject of significant debate for a number of years. Proponents note increased safety and a reduction in the number of severe injuries; while others worry skiers will take greater risks, believing helmets alone will protect them.
Although it may be true that some helmet wearers take greater risks, these same people are generally risk takers in all aspects of life, according to leading ski safety expert, Dr. Jasper Shealy of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The most severe injuries often occur with people who live a high-risk lifestyle and are equally likely to be severely injured while driving a car, riding a bike, or just crossing the street.
It’s also true that helmets can’t take the place of skier caution and attentiveness. After all, they aren’t a license to act irresponsibly when skiing, any more than wearing a seat belt while operating a car or truck is a license for reckless driving. When combined with a solid ski safety routine, helmets certainly make skiing a more enjoyable and safer experience.
Although helmets can’t stop all accidents from happening, they add to overall safety and cut down on the incidence of head injuries. They take nothing away from your appearance or your performance and don’t compromise vision or reaction time. When you weigh the evidence, there’s really no reason to take the chance of suffering a head trauma, particularly when quality ski helmets are so widely available on the market these days.
*This article was not written by a legal professional, and it is always up to you as to whether or not you wish to wear a helmet! Just keep in mind that helmets may save lives.
About the author: Deanna Power works for Personal Injury Help , an independent organization located in Boston, providing people with the resources they need to protect their legal rights. She grew up riding the bunny slopes in central Maine. If you have any questions on this article, feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.