There was once a time when skiers and snowboarders scoffed at the idea of wearing helmets. After all, helmets are not exactly a fashion statement. Then came the statistics about head injuries, some of which proved to be fatal. Suddenly, fashion became less important when faced with the possibility of a concussion, a permanent head injury, or, in some cases, death.
While ski helmets are not a substitute for good technique and adherence to safety rules, they do offer protection from serious injury. At some ski resorts, helmets are mandatory for children in ski school. The deaths of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy have served as an inspiration. Today, when you visit a ski area, you will notice that most skiers and snowboarders are wearing helmets.
Reasons for Wearing Ski Helmets
Stewart Levy, MD performed a survey of 261 skiers and riders that were admitted to Saint Anthony's Hospital in Denver, after suffering from head injuries on the slopes. Only 13 of those injured were wearing helmets. The 13 helmet wearers suffered mild concussions, and eventually enjoyed a full recovery.
Those who were not wearing helmets weren't as lucky. Their injuries included included cerebral contusions and comas. Four percent of those not wearing helmets eventually died as a result of their injuries. If protection from injury is not an inspiration, consider this factor. Helmets are probably the warmest head gear that you can buy.
Fitting Ski Helmets
Ski helmets will only provide protection if they fit correctly. Some people actually perform a head measurement prior to purchasing their helmets. Be sure to position the tape measure and above your ears and about 1/2 inch above your eyebrows. To get an accurate measurement of your head's circumference, measure around the longest part of your forehead. The helmet should fit snug, but not too tight. When you shake your head, it should not rock back and forth.
Ski helmets are composed of an inner layer of foam, a hard outer shell, a chin strap, and, in most cases, a goggle attachment. The inner foam is usually made from polyurethane, which can be treated with an antibacterial agent for hygienic purposes. In some cases, if the helmet is an almost, but not quite perfect fit, a shop technician can mold the foam to fit your head shape.
The middle layer of ski helmets is responsible for shock absorption. Helmets come with either of two types of middle layer construction. An in-mold construction connects the shock absorbing middle layer to the outer shell, whereas injected-molded helmets attach the inner foam to a separate plastic shell.
The outer shell of ski helmets is composed of a UV stabilized polycarbonite material. Many helmets come with a ventilation system, which can be useful for spring skiing conditions.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.