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mandatory helmets - opinions/commentary?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey gang! I know we've talked about this on here somewhere before... sorry to dig up old news.

But... I'd like to hear some thoughts on making helmets mandatory for 12 and under types.

What are the "what if's" involved? What sort of exposure does the ski area operator open himself up for? Any places already doing this?

This is kind of a work-related question, so I'd appreciate hearing what folks have to say...
post #2 of 21
For 12 and under types taking lessons? Or every kid that is skiing at the mountain? Truthfully I'm divided on this subject. With respect to helmets in general, I can't decide wether a heltmet is as good an injury preventer as it is a device that gives people confidence to ski faster and more "carelessly" than they would while not wearing one.

I'd love to see some hard statistical data, but I know it's rare. I guess when it comes to kids, my gut feeling says yes, make the kids wear helmets.
post #3 of 21
There is lots of information pro and con. But from where I sit right now from a brain trauma hospital where my girlfriend is right now because she fell from a bike with out a helmet. I certainly feel that I should cast my vote for helmets as often as possible. It does not take much to really scramble the brains up. You can damage lots of things that will grow back but the brain is the key to it all working correctly. Protect it!!
bottom line, you don't want to wake up in hospital bed and say wow a helmet could have made the difference between me walking running and talking, or bed for the rest of my life. That is the reality here every day. :

[ November 15, 2002, 04:09 AM: Message edited by: mosh ]
post #4 of 21
Mosh, I'm very sorry to hear of your girlfriends accident. Hope the best for her. It's hard to watch a loved one suffer, especialy from beside a hospital bed. My best wishes to her and you.

I've never worn a helmet. Never found one that felt comfortable. I've got an oval pinhead. [img]redface.gif[/img] Really the only time I ever feel like I want one is when I ski at big sky. The rocks are sharp, hard, everywhere, and there are always more than you can see. If kids were required to wear them in lessons I wouldn't have a problem wearing one myself. Looks like the handwriting is on the wall though. I see them being required in the future.

Every fall I try on helmets, and I go this is really uncomfortable, and everything sounds muffled. eventually I'm sure I'll have one.
post #5 of 21
I have one for my son, I wear one when I race, but not when I free ski. Overall I would be for a mandatory helmit IF the mountain supplied them. My concern is that if it was required you would have people showing up with old or borrowed helmits that do not fit properly in which case they could do more harm than good.
post #6 of 21
Good point Todo.
post #7 of 21
Last season, I posted regarding a proposed policy for what I believe was (via my shaky memory), the Aspen and Vail areas ski schools.

I thought they were going to require helmets for kids starting this season.
post #8 of 21
Regulating responsibility never works the way we would like. Todo brings up a good example of the problems that can happen. But the real question is do we leave the responsibility up to the adult individual or the minors parents or do we legislate/mandate use?

For adults my answer is simple, no legislation or mandates. To the contrary, the legislation should be that for adults not using helmets they should bear the burden of proof to establish that any injury they sustain in an accident would not have been prevented or mitigated by helmet use. If they cannot prove this fact, they would have no cause of action, and would not qualify for public assistance in medical or rehabilitation of the injury. In essence, I think we should place the full responsibility of helmet use and the consequences on the adult individual.

As for kids, however, the issues are more complicated. If a preponderance of the empirical evidence shows that helmets are substantially more beneficial than detrimental, legislating mandatory use is reasonable, but it infringes on the parents role as parent. Most states have taken this step with respect to car seats and bike helmets because the evidence is clear that helmets reduce injuries but there are a significant number of parents who are either irresponsible or who seem to be more swayed by economic considerations than they are by the well being of their children.

The CPSC is requesting skiers use helmets. The following data is revealing http://www.bhsi.org/skicrash.htm Further, the better studies I have reviewed show that the risk of injury for children is relatively high at nearly one quarter of all injuries in this group being head injuries http://hsc.virginia.edu/medicine/cli...b/skihelm.html

I support legislation/mandatory helmet laws for children under the age of majority. I do not support legislation/mandatory helmet laws for adults; instead I support liability limiting measures and the like.

post #9 of 21
NSSA will fight tooth and nail to prevent any mandatory helmet laws or suggestion that anyone wear helmets while skiing. Reason being is that it would imply that skiing is an inherently dangerous activity.

Mountain management had heartburn when a local doc provided free helmets to our patrol. We could wear them, but were informed to avoid any statements supporting helmet use.
post #10 of 21
Well said! Say, you don't sound like a REAL Maddog.
post #11 of 21
As a matter of interest, if the wearing of helmets was inforced by the under 12's, do they also have to wear seat belts in auto's?
post #12 of 21
Everyone has to wear seat belts here

The driver can be fined as well as the passenger if the passenegr doesn't wear one
post #13 of 21
Originally posted by Colin-uk:
As a matter of interest, if the wearing of helmets was inforced by the under 12's, do they also have to wear seat belts in auto's?
In the States it is State by State, but I believe most, if not all require seatbelts for adults and minors and car seats for children up to either 40 or 80 lbs.

They also tend to require bike helmets, and many States require motorcycle helmets for adults and children.

I guess the land of the free now has an * behind it!

I agree with most of these laws but not the laws regarding adults. There are better and less restrictive ways to change adult’s behavior.

Thank you Yuki, perhaps age and children have tamed me, it is a very old nickname. My wife still recommends everyone keep a minimum 10’ distance for his or her own protection.

post #14 of 21
This is a topic that I have some knowledge. Having raced motorcycles for longer than most of you have been around, I know that an inferior helmet CAN KILL YOU! There is a standard for helmets that race organizations mandate: the Snell Foundation. Not only does Snell certify high speed racing helmets to their standard, they also have standards for recreational sports, such as skiing. The Snell standard is far more demanding than the CE European standard or the US ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) standard. Unfortunately, Leedom is the only US manufacturer tha meets the Snell standard. The unfortunate aspect is Leedom is the only helmet that is readily available to the public. There are significant tests that are not performed, except under the Snell standard.

The Leedom is a little more expensive than most of the other helmets on the market. But, I have to ask the age-old question: What is your head worth? I had a Grant helmet in the early 70's. It cost about $75. I crashed and the helmet rotated in my head, giving me a brain stem concussion. It almost killed me. I promptly bought a Bell (Snell approved) and it cost me $175. Not a problem.

Should kids be required to wear helmets? Only if they have a minimum of the US ASTM cert. Then I say that could be iffy! Preferably Snell. What is your kid's head and brain worth???

[ November 16, 2002, 08:05 AM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #15 of 21
RickH: Very good points. I never raced motorcycles, but rode for years. Do you think it would make a difference with skiing since generally we don't reach speeds that we normally do on a motorcycle? My reason for asking is I remember how much heavier my Bike helmet was compared to my ski helmet.

I would prefer to see helmets mandated for everyone. You see, I don't like to see people become disabled & killed.

Keep skiing faster!
post #16 of 21
Originally posted by FlipFlopFly:

I would prefer to see helmets mandated for everyone. You see, I don't like to see people become disabled & killed.

Keep skiing faster!
Why not ban skiing and eliminate the risk alltogether? That way you are guaranteed to never see anyone disabled or killed skiing.

OK, I am being sarcastic, but this attitude is ridiculous. Can we assume some responsibility here?
post #17 of 21
No manditory helmets on adults, make it a personal preference but make sure that EVERY KID is wearing one, first off that does two things.

1. Makes sure that every kid is protected, I doubt anyone here will argue that good helmets won't protect the wearer in a head injury.(regardless of the "invincibility factor", which is a problem with every kid).

2. It gets kids used to wearing a helmet so then as they grow up the need for manditory helmets becomes a moot point because everyone will (hopefully) be wearing one.

I work in a day care center and a before/after school program and kids can and do get hurt because they think that they are bulletproof. This translates onto the ski slope as well. This is different from the SUV in a ditch syndrome that affects some older helmet wearing individuals(I have a helemet, I can ski even faster then I could before cause I'll be safe).

Some kids are naturally daredevils whether you put a helmet on their heads or not it isn't going to matter whether you slap a lid on or not they will still ski faster then they are capable of. When they go full speed down a run, can't stop in time and hit a tree/lift tower/other obsticle I think that everyone can agree that a good helmet may be the difference between life or death. That doesn't even take into consideration all the falls that kids take while learning how to ski.

I belive that Crested Butte? requires kids to have lids only while they are in ski school, I think requiring all kids to wear helmets is the logical next step but it will take some time. I also think that if the mountain is going to require helmets that they should rent them out but that brings all sort of yucky issues into play(like how do you sterilize them after use to prevent things like head lice from spreading) Just my $.02 on the issue
post #18 of 21

While speeds are lower in skiing, so are the Snell standards. Leedom has a link to Snell: www.leedomhelmets.com Click on Resources, click on Snell Q and A. Makes some very interesting reading.

[ November 16, 2002, 08:09 AM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #19 of 21
The most dangerous part of skiing is driving to the ski area. So should you wear a helmet in your car? Should Big Brother mandate helmet use in cars? It would Save Lives. Especially in Stupid Useless Vehicles.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! Good stuff. It seems on the the surface that making helmets mandatory for kids is a "no-brainer".

But... if a ski area operator makes helmets mandatory and provides the rental of said helmet... then has a very busy day in the rental shop and runs out of helmets? Or, worse, sends kids out with helmets that do not fit properly?

I have seen many cases where the helmet is an obvious detriment to mobility and vision. Lots of kids show up with dad's old bike helmet, older brother's hockey helmet, and even helmets over top of toques. Invariably, the poor kid can't seem a damn thing because the helmet or toque is constantly sliding down over his eyes.

Can the cure sometimes be worse than the disease? And if a ski area operator is found to have provided a rental of an improperly fitted helmet, what happens?
post #21 of 21
There's lots of debate in medical journals and the like these days about this very topic. Here's one from


Celebrity ski deaths inspire helmet debate
The recent high-profile deaths of Michael Kennedy and Sonny Bono have focused attention on head injuries in skiing. In biking, helmet use has become widely accepted and has been shown to substantially protect against head injuries (1). Is the time ripe for ski helmets? Some say yes, but others have doubts.

A Slow-Growing Trend
"It's time to mount the charge for ski helmets like we have for bicycle helmet use," says Jeffrey M. Brown, MD, MPH, director of the General Pediatrics Division at Denver Health in Colorado. Brown says that ski helmet use is widely promoted in Europe, particularly among children, and that ski racers have always worn helmets. But the trend has been slow to gain momentum on US slopes. "In Colorado I'm beginning to see adults with helmets. It's a very small number, but each year there seem to be more," he says.

Randy Swart, director of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute in Arlington, Virginia, says that helmets serve as a secondary defense when skiing near trees, rocks, or unpadded lift line pylons. The primary defense is reducing risky behavior. "Don't ski fast near trees," says Swart, "but then wear a helmet in case something does happen."

Even advocates speculate that helmets might not have saved Kennedy and Bono. However, helmets could prevent many concussions that contribute to missed work, insomnia, amnesia, or learning impairments, says Brown. He and his colleagues contend that physicians can reduce the number and severity of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding by advocating helmet use (2).

Others proceed more cautiously. After reviewing data on ski injuries, a committee of the American Medical Association (AMA) recently recommended that children and adolescents wear helmets when skiing or snowboarding. But they stopped short of supporting mandatory use of helmets, citing insufficient evidence (3). "The AMA recommendations are based on common sense, not strong data," says John C. Nelson, MD, a trustee of the AMA and an obstetrician in Salt Lake City.

Does Helmet Use Pay?
Also skeptical of compulsory helmet use is Jasper Shealy, PhD, who tracks ski injuries at Sugarbush Ski Resort in Warren, Vermont.

"It's hard to make a pressing case for everyone to wear ski helmets based on the statistical evidence," says Shealy. According to Shealy's Sugarbush survey over 15 ski seasons, 2.6% (309) of ski injuries were potentially serious head injuries--1% (3) were fatal, 3.4% (10) were skull fractures, 2.6% (8) were severe brain injuries, and 94% (288) were concussions. An average of 34 skiers (mostly adults) die yearly of head injuries, (3) compared with Swart's figure of 559 cyclists in the same category. Bicyclists outnumber skiers more than five to one, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.

Shealy also contends that while helmets can prevent mild concussions caused by glancing blows, they wouldn't help much in the kind of major collisions that cause skiing deaths. He says most such deaths occur when adult intermediate or expert male skiers slam into trees.

Shealy notes that the New York Legislature is considering a resolution to require children under 17 to wear ski helmets. He finds this ironic in that "they're not the ones dying from head injuries."

Another concern about ski helmets is that they introduce a minor risk of neck injuries; the lower rear edge of the helmet acts as a pivot point that can cause an anterior translation spinal injury, Shealy says. Helmets may also increase the risk of whiplash injuries in small children because their necks are weaker.

Shealy concedes that helmet use may prevent head injuries, particularly mild concussions, abrasions, contusions, lacerations, and facial injuries, but he fears that the benefit might be offset by increased reckless behavior on the slopes. Brown agrees: "That's always an issue in preventive medicine: If you do something to make people safer, do they feel more secure, then act in a hazardous way?"
[ November 17, 2002, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: Powderhoundin ]
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