Ski Safety with Kids- Does My Child REALLY Need a Helmet to Ski and Snowboard?
Updated: Feb 9
One of the big questions parents ask is if a helmet is necessary for skiing and snowboarding. The answer is a resounding- YES! When it comes to your child’s ski and snowboard safety the first and most important piece of equipment is their helmet. According to a study by the NIH*, 22% of injuries in children while skiing and snowboard are head and neck injuries. Almost 88% of fatal injuries are caused by head injuries.* While wearing a helmet doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of head injury, it does greatly decrease the chance of it being traumatic or fatal.
Thankfully, helmet usage has become so much more the norm on the ski slopes that it’s easier than ever for parents to encourage safe habits for their children. But one of the biggest ways that we parents can ensure the safe ski habits of our kids is to model the behavior ourselves. When we wear a helmet, it’s that much easier for our kids. And why not, our brains are important too!
When choosing a helmet, make sure to choose a helmet that is sport specific. A bicycle helmet is not designed for the type of impact that a ski helmet is designed for. Some manufacturers make multi-use helmets, which can be a good option if your child participates in multiple activities. Just make sure that it has the ASTM label certifying it for skiing. One bonus to choosing a ski specific helmet is you can usually find insulated helmets that keep their head and ears warm.
Whether you choose a multi-sport or ski-specific helmet, you should always replace the helmet after any severe crash or damage to the helmet. This can include damage to the helmet when being stored. Most helmets have a shelf-life of approximately 5 years, so avoid buying used or giving them as hand me downs unless you can guarantee that the helmet is not over 5 years and has never been in a serious crash or been damaged. Helmets are designed to fracture inside, which keeps your young skiers and boarders head safe instead, so you can’t always see the damage to the helmet with your eye. When using multi-sport helmets, remember that if it’s in a crash in any of the sports it’s being used in, it’s no longer safe for any other sport usage.
If you purchase skis or a snowboard for your child, make sure to budget for the helmet. If renting, most rental locations will include the helmet in the cost of the rental or add it for a small additional fee. It’s the must-have piece of equipment for your child’s ski safety- don’t forget it!
Read Part 2 of our Helmet Safety Series for how to properly fit the helmet and see our recommendations for some of the highest rated helmets available.