Your child should wear a ski helmet if:
- They have a brain that is made of soft tissue, blood vessels, and a beautiful network of complex neurons that can never be repaired once damaged
- If they are going to be skiing or sledding at speeds greater than 2 mph
- If they live on planet Earth where interaction with gravity is a significant and unavoidable force that acts on your child
If your child fits this criteria, then helmets are a must when skiing or sledding.
Children can generate high speeds with little control. They have less developed motor control and lack the decision making skills necessary to stay safe. This would include judging distances, speed, and when to start braking. Trees, icy surfaces, rocks, and buildings are not forgiving. Also be aware that your child is at risk of collision with another skier that is much bigger, heavier, and faster. Wearing helmets can reduce head injuries by 30 to 50 percent, and may be the difference between life and death.
Wearing a helmet while sledding is just as important when skiing. Sledding is an overlooked safety hazard. According to WebMD, there are thousands of sledding related accidents every year. Head trauma accounts for 34% of injuries from sledding. A third of all injuries occurred on private property. Nearly half of injuries involved children aged 10 to 14.
A proper fitting ski helmet is critical. Investing in a new helmet every year for your child is well worth it. But if you think this is too expensive, some ski areas offer rental helmets at a low cost. This is a great option to protect those growing brains. In fact many ski resorts promote helmet programs for kids, like Lids On Kids.
If you know other families that ski, consider organizing a trading group for gear. This can greatly lower the cost of buying new winter clothing and helmets for your children each season.
And, no. A bicycle helmet is not an adequate replacement for a snow safety helmet.