An acquaintance recently posted about a friend who lost someone through a ski accident recently because of a head injury, and asked that we all pass the message of being safe for the holidays. As I have been skiing this week, I have been surprised by how many people still aren’t wearing ski helmets. It certainly can’t be about money, since ski equipment and lift tickets can cost hundreds, if not over a thousand dollars, and a good ski helmet can be had for around $50. Years ago, when I first worked in the ski resort industry, the only people who wore helmets were competitive racers. Frankly, if you wore a helmet, you felt like a bit of a wuss or a dork, who was being overly paranoid while skiing. I think a lot of recreational skiers thought it wasn’t necessary, as the only people who needed helmets were people who skied Mach 5, or people who skied the trees a lot. But back in 2009, a famous movie actress, Natasha Richardson, died of a head injury suffered while learning to ski on a bunny slope, when she fell and hit her heard, and that was a big wake up call for me and many others. The second thing that got me thinking about wearing a ski helmet was a routine questionnaire my primary doctor gave me before a physical. There were some safety-related questions on there like do you wear seat belts (well, of course), and do you wear a bike helmet (again, of course), and finally do you ski and wear a helmet? (Ooops….). Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce head injuries up to 50 percent and save lives. After sharing this information with Bryon, on Valentine’s Day, I received a lovely purple helmet from him, that I have been wearing ever since. At first, it felt kind of weird, but now it is second nature, and I completely forget I have it on.
I’m sure there’s plenty of my friends who might be reading this, that don’t ski and don’t plan to ski. But I would say this same advice applies to something a lot of people do, which is bicycling. Many states have started requiring children under a certain age to wear a helmet. Yet it amazes me, that parents will ride with their kids, who are wearing helmets to protect them, but the parents don’t. We are the best examples for our children, spouses, friends and family. I first started wearing a bike helmet right after college, why my boyfriend at the time, bought me a bike and insisted that I wear a helmet. I felt like a major dork. But it introduced me to how important that protecting my head can be in any kind of sport.
The funny thing is with skiing, it’s become really cool to wear a helmet, and if anything, it is uncool not to. On top of that, manufacturers are now using helmets as a means to express your personality, with all kinds of fun colors (purples, blues, silver, etc.) and fun graphics and designs. Bryon has a helmet with aliens on it, and often gets stopped by teenagers who tell him how much they love his helmet!
If you can afford to buy the equipment necessary to participate in any of these outdoor activities, you can not afford to leave your head unprotected — after all, one’s brain is one of our most precious commodities.