- Will my child be safer if they wear a helmet?
- Are there helmets specifically designed for snowsports or can my child wear his or her bicycle helmet?
- How much protection can a helmet give me?
- If I fall or hit a tree or a rock while skiing, will a helmet protect me from getting hurt?
- Is there a standard for manufacturing a helmet? How do I know if the snowsport helmet I wear will provide me enough protection?
- Why do helmets vary in cost so much? Is one helmet as safe as another?
- Should I consider renting a helmet before purchasing one? Where can I rent one?
- Are skiing and snowboarding as safe as they used to be? Is a helmet a key piece of safety equipment today?
- If I buy a helmet, what are some tips to assist me in my purchase?
- I would feel safer wearing a helmet. What kind of helmet would you recommend?
- Does the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), the trade group for ski area owners and operators, recommend helmets for skiers and snowboarders?
- What Do Parents Need to Know About Helmets and Kids Safety?
Helmets can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury from falls or other impacts. They are most effective at slower speeds. Be sure to have your child properly fitted for a helmet and don’t forget to teach your child to ski or snowboard responsibly and to be familiar with the “Your Responsibility Code,” the seven safety rules of the slopes. Click here (Link to Your Responsibility Code).
2. Are there helmets specifically designed for snowsports or can my child wear his or her bicycle helmet?
Ski and snowboard helmets are specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding usage. Wearing another sport’s helmet, such as a bicycle helmet, may or may not afford you adequate protection.
Ski and snowboard helmets are insulated for cold weather and bicycle helmets provide more ventilation than ski helmets. A ski and snowboard helmet should provide better coverage and impact protection than wearing a bicycle helmet on the slopes.
The National Ski Areas Association encourages you to wear a helmet on the slopes and educate yourself about a helmet’s benefits and limitations.
Helmets do have limits and users need to be aware of them. However, a helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury and many skiers and snowboarders today are choosing to wear them. Helmets are designed to reduce the severity of head injuries, but they are most effective at providing protection from a direct blow to the head at speeds under 14 mph. Keep in mind, if you lose control and hit a tree, object or another skier at moderate or high speed, a helmet may not prevent or reduce a serious injury. It’s important not to take more risks because you are wearing a helmet. Whether wearing a helmet or not, you should always ski responsibly and within your ability.
A helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing injury and many skiers and snowboarders today are choosing to wear them. Keep in mind, if you lose control and should hit a tree, rock, another object or another skier at moderate or high speed, a helmet may not always prevent or reduce a serious injury. It’s best not to put yourself in a situation where you’re depending on a helmet to avoid an injury.
5. Is there a standard for manufacturing a helmet? How do I know if the snowsport helmet I wear will provide me enough protection?
When purchasing a helmet, read the accompanying literature to see if the helmet meets one of the three following helmet standards:
The Common European Norm (CEN) is a large European standard organization that develops hundreds of standards for various products used by the European Union. The CEN 1077 standard is the European ski helmet standard; it was issued in 1996. This European ski helmet standard was almost identical to a pre-existing ski helmet standard used in the 1980s. Compared with the other ski helmet standards, the CEN standard is the least demanding in impact management requirements.
The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM), a not-for-profit organization that provides a global forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services, adopted a United States’ recreational snowsports helmet F2040 standard in May 2000; it has become the standard to which helmets should be manufactured in the United States. Ski and Snowboard helmets manufactured in the United States should conform to the ASTM snowsports helmet standard. For more information about ASTM, log on to www.astm.org.
Lastly, the Snell Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards, develops helmet standards and operates test labs for testing and certification. Since its founding in 1957, Snell has been a leader in helmet safety in the United States and around the world. (For more information, log on to www.smf.org). The Snell RS-98 standard is the most stringent ski helmet standard in the world.
Note: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) endorsed the use of snowsports helmets in January of 1999. (For the document, go to www.cpsc.gov, under library/FOIA, click on consumer-related statistics, then click on skiing helmets, at bottom). The CPSC noted that while the then proposed ASTM standard (the ASTM Standard wasn’t adopted until May 2000) and the CEN standard may differ in test parameters, a helmet that meets either of the standards “will provide adequate protection to reduce the risk of head injury.” The Snell standard, presumably, would be considered adequate as well since it’s the most stringent of the three standards.
Several factors affect the price of a helmet, including: materials, design, graphics and temperature maintenance systems. It’s recommended that your helmet meets the ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) standard. The fit of the helmet is very important with regard to its providing the appropriate protection.
Many ski areas rent helmets (Most of the National Ski Areas Association’s member resorts rent helmets), but not all ski areas. Therefore, you should contact the ski area you plan to visit in advance to see whether they provide helmet rentals. Likewise, many ski shops also rent helmets, but call first to confirm. Renting a helmet prior to purchasing one is a matter of personal choice. The benefit would be that renting a helmet would give you a feel and understanding of a manufacturer’s helmet’s performance features, as well as allowing you to make your own distinctions about the benefits.
8. Are skiing and snowboarding as safe as they used to be? Is a helmet a key piece of safety equipment today?
Skiing and snowboarding have always had some risks, but they also have an excellent safety record. Skiers and snowboarders have less than a one in a million chance of being seriously injured or dying on the slopes. Serious head injuries account for only 2.6 percent of overall skiing/snowboarding injuries. Each skier or snowboarder’s behavior has as much or more to do with the safety of the sports as does any piece of equipment. Following “Your Responsibility Code” is the key to promoting your and others’ safety. If you choose to wear a helmet or use other types of equipment to protect yourself, be sure you understand the limits and proper use of that equipment. Don’t let safety equipment give you a false sense of security.
The most important consideration when purchasing a helmet is the fit. A helmet is not a piece of equipment that you want to purchase too small or too large to grow into. If a helmet doesn’t fit correctly, it may not perform to its ability in the event of an accident. When shopping for a helmet, bring along your goggles, or borrow pair that matches your own from the shop. Make sure your entire forehead (above eyebrows to hairline) is covered by your helmet or goggles, because if there’s a gap on your forehead between your helmet and your goggles, this exposed area can get cold and wet on snowy days. Unlike a hat, a helmet can’t be amended or “pushed down” to keep your forehead warm. Look for a helmet that is engineered to work well with goggles or provides its own integrated goggles. It’s important for a helmet to work with goggles and glasses to maintain vision, airflow and comfort. Lastly, make sure the helmet conforms to a ski/snowboard helmet standard (Common European Norm, American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and/or Snell.) Ask an experienced ski shop associate to assist you to identify the best brand for your head shape and confirm a proper fit.
A helmet designed for recreational snowsports. There are a variety of helmets available that conform to the newly adopted American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2040. It is important that any helmet be properly fitted. Read the helmet manufacturer’s information and learn about what level of protection a particular helmet will provide. All models are not the same and do not provide the same level of protection. For more information on standards, see FAQ #6 above.
11. Does the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), the trade group for ski area owners and operators, recommend helmets for skiers and snowboarders?
- Skiing or boarding responsibly is your first priority. Helmets are a second line of defense. Be able to stop or avoid other people or objects and follow “Your Responsibility Code”
- Helmets can reduce head injuries by 30-50%, and may be the difference between a major and minor injury.
- Helmets do have limitations. Helmets provide the most protection at slower speeds – but most of us ski and snowboard faster. Check your speed.
- Helmets should not give you a false sense of security and do not allow you to take more risks. Wear a helmet, but more importantly, ski or snowboard as if you are not wearing one.
- For kids, parents should ensure that the helmet is properly fitted and the chin strap fastened.
Your child should be familiar with and/or memorize the “Your Responsibility Code,” the seven rules of slope safety. CLICK HERE FOR YOUR RESPONSIBILITY CODE. Slope safety and personal responsibility should be discussed prior to hitting the slopes.
A helmet can make a difference in reducing or preventing a head injury from a fall or other impacts. However, no helmet can protect the wearer against all foreseeable impacts and injuries to the head. Emphasize to your child to “use their head and ski and/or snowboard responsibly.”
A helmet’s fit is most important. It’s helpful to have an experienced sales person assist your child with fit. Know your child’s head circumference. You can learn this by using a tailor’s measuring tape and measure your child’s head above the ears and right above the eyebrows (widest part of the head from the front to the back). A properly fit helmet will be comfortable with no pressure points. A helmet is not an item that you want to grow into.
When shopping for a helmet, bring your goggles with you to make sure they will fit with the helmet you choose.
When buying a helmet consider choosing one that meets the ASTM 2040 standard. This should be printed on the helmet’s literature. See FAQ #6 above for description of helmet standards.
Several factors that affect a helmet’s price include graphics, weight, style, etc.
Enroll your child in ski school because they will master the sport more easily with instruction and learn great habits early on.