This winter (and every winter), you should be wearing a helmet for any sport that could get your noggin cracked. Ice skating, skiing/boarding, and sledding are the big ones. My kids look at me a little funny when I tell them they don’t need to wear one XC skiing, but maybe they should?!?
I don’t even know why helmets are a hot-button topic. I don’t know why there is any negotiation or question about why you shouldn’t wear one. In my opinion, it’s an across-the-board, no-questions-asked, you wear your helmet every. single. time. But, I know there are people out there that disagree and think I am
- being overly cautious
- am promoting something that doesn’t really work anyway
- opening the door for people to be MORE reckless just because they think they are invincible with a helmet on
I beg to differ.
Even if YOU are the best skier/boarder/sledder out there, you’re sharing the hill with many people who are not.
“Increased helmet usage has proven to reduce all head injuries, especially potentially serious head injuries (PSHI). ….while helmet usage increased in the last 10 years, there was a dramatic improvement in the decline of potentially serious head injuries, particularly in concussions. According to the study’s authors, three quarters of all PSHI from skiing or snowboarding are mild concussions, and 90 percent of PSHIs are typically treated and released from hospitals or clinics within four hours. The study concluded that ski and snowboard helmets are extremely effective at preventing skull fractures, and have virtually eliminated scalp lacerations.” – Source
So basically, yes, it’s still going to hurt if you bang up your head. But, a helmet DOES reduce the severity of the injury in most cases.
The good news? Every year since NSAA (National Ski Areas Association) starting keeping track (in 2002), there has been a significant increase of the amount of people wearing helmets voluntarily. In 2002, it was about 20% of riders, in 2016, it jumped to 80%.
So what about the little kids??
While technically, kids’ necks cannot fully support a helmet until they are about a year old, our kids know that without exception they will not be allowed to bike, skate, ski, or sled without one on their head after they reach that age. In fact, we taught our kids almost too well – they are the self-proclaimed helmet police and quickly notice AND point out anyone not wearing theirs. Which has turned into a few embarrassing situations. But, I’ll take that over my kids fighting wearing helmets at all.
I get questions all the time about how to get kids to be good about wearing helmets. While every kid is certainly different, my best advice is that you just don’t teach them any different. From the very first time they are on skis or on a bike, they wear it. The two go hand-in-hand.
Have a stubborn kiddo? Me too (actually, me four). Believe me, I feel your pain.
Let them jazz it up so they think it is fun. Add stickers or covers or whatever it takes. There are lots of companies out there now working very hard to make helmets attractive, if not completely obnoxious, for kids.
Better yet, “monkey see, monkey do” – Wear YOUR helmet too. Every time.
Finally, it is also very crucial to point out the importance of a well-fitting helmet. Here’s how to fit them best:
- Take a soft measuring tape and wrap it around your head about 1 inch above your eyebrows and ears. Most helmets are measured in centimeters, so unless you love calculations, measure your head in centimeters. Order a helmet that will fit your head.
- Try it on! Once you get it, be sure it actually fits like it should. It should be snug all the way around, but not so tight as to cause discomfort.
- Shake it! If you move your head all around and your helmet stays put, it’s a good fit.
- Try it on with goggles – there should be no gap between the goggles and the helmet.
- Do NOT buy a helmet to “grow into” for kids or a used helmet.
This winter our kids are wearing and testing helmets and goggles from Bolle. All their helmets have in-mold construction, a clip to hold on the goggles and a click-to-fit adjustment (that really is possible to adjust with gloves on). The goggles are available in coordinating designs/colors to match the helmets.
For the smallest kids, we recommend their B-Kid helmet (size 49-58 cm) and their AMP goggles. They fit ages ~3-6 (but we think 5 is probably a better fit). The B-Kid helmet has semi-rigid ear pads for ultimate protection. We love that.
B-Lieve Helmet: Also available in that super small, XXS size. Detachable ear pads and warm!
B-Free Helmet: Light, and slightly better ventilation.
All in all, we’ve been super impressed and the kids are staying warm, protected and never complain!
Note: we were hoping the XXS size would fit our 20 month old, but she is still slightly too small for the perfect fit.
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