Brain Buckets Save Lives
By Eva Potter
Concussion management, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other sports impact injuries are making major headlines these days as research strongly recommends protecting your brain any way you can. Avoiding skiing and boarding head injuries are no exception.
No matter how well and controlled you ski and board, unpredictable things can happen in a split second, leading to an unexpected fall. That’s when a good helmet is worth its weight in gold, potentially saving you from a serious brain injury. With new statistics about concussions and their long-term effects, wearing a helmet just makes good sense.
Teaching slope and helmet safety, as well as etiquette (which is ultimately about safety), should begin when kids are young and first getting into snowsports, and January is the perfect time to brush up on the guidelines during Safety Awareness Month (SAM).
Holiday Valley is joining resorts across the country to raise awareness of safety on the slopes with fun events and activities for skiers and riders of all ages. While Holiday Valley does not require guests to wear helmets, “During Safety Awareness Month, the Safety Patrol is conducting helmet education on the slopes for our younger guests, helping to correctly size helmets and (demonstrate) how to wear them properly,” said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director at Holiday Valley.
Special emphasis will be placed on safety and the Responsibility Code, which you can find at http://www.holidayvalley.com/winter/safety/safety-awareness.
A Growing Trend
Last ski season, 78 percent of all U.S. skiers and snowboarders wore helmets, setting yet another record for helmet usage at ski areas across the United States, according to a recent National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) study. The study also states that 85 percent of skiers and snowboarders ages 17 and under wore helmets during the past season, and 97 percent of children ages 9 and under wore them.
NSAA credits resorts, parents and local medical groups for encouraging helmet use. It also credits helmet manufacturers who have made helmets stylish and comfortable.
However, helmets are not the perfect panacea. Studies show that, when snow enthusiasts are traveling more than 12 to 14 miles per hour, helmets do not protect against serious head injury as well. So, don’t let a helmet give you a false sense of security. Ski and board as if you’re not wearing a helmet and keep yourself safe.” For more safety information and a kids’ quiz, go to www.LidsOnKids.org.
Now that you’ve read the statistics, check out resort and village ski shops for stylish, functional, lightweight, warm and cost-effective helmets for the whole family. Some come equipped with audio compatibility for some jammin’ iPod tunes, easy-to-open ventilation slots, goggle holder straps, goggle vents to eliminate fog, mesh liners and more. You may find one for as little as $50, or you can rent helmets in the High Performance Shop on the lower level of the Main Lodge and in Creekside Lodge at Holiday Valley.
Human heads come in all shapes and sizes, therefore, helmets do too. Sizing differs between manufacturers, so try on as many helmets as you can to find the perfect fit. The ultimate goal is to find a helmet that fits correctly, because without proper fit, it just becomes a fancy hat — and you know how well that protects you.
Have a store clerk help you find your size by measuring the circumference of your head above the ears approximately two finger widths above your eyebrows. The right helmet should sit firmly and squarely on your head with even pressure all around your head. For sizing charts, tips to consider and FAQs, visit www.lidsonkids.org.
Never try to save money by buying a helmet that’s a little big so your child can grow into it. It has to fit now. And remember to bring your goggles to ensure they are compatible with the helmet you choose.
Dave Doty, a 10-year Safety Patrol member at Holiday Valley and Cattaraugus-Little Valley school ski club advisor, said, “While patrolling, I have seen people fall, and without a helmet I’m sure they would have been injured,” said Doty, who has also witnessed students taking spills, resulting in concussion even while wearing a helmet. “It would have been much worse without one.”
One last important tip: Do not continue wearing a helmet after it has been damaged. Once it’s absorbed an impact, becomes cracked or defective in any way, stop using it immediately and purchase a new one. You only have one brain to last you a lifetime.