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Where Is Your Kid's Winter Helmet?

This could have ended badly. Thank goodness for a helmet.

It's winter! It's sledding and skiing and skating season!  You know what that means? It's one more season to make sure your child is wearing a helmet. But for some strange reason, there are kids out there who are hurtling down hills and gliding across ice rinks with nothing but a cute, soft winter hat protecting their heads.

What's up with that?  Seriously. Polar fleece, wool and colourful, synthetic knits are NOT going to help when the little cuties wipe-out and knock their noggin's. But I've seen it with my own eyes. In the local park, on the ski hill and on the ice rink I've seen kids of all ages enjoying winter fun without that very important piece of equipment - a helmet.  I don't get it. It's hard to find a child riding a bike, skateboard or rollerblades in the summer without a helmet. Why are winter activities any different?

I think it's just common sense to plunk a helmet on my daughter's head when she's going to do any winter activity that involves speed and the increased possibility of an uncontrollable fall.  I was going to write this post as a simple public service announcement sharing my version of common sense. But really, why would anyone listen to me? So I did some searching on the Internet to find some stats to back up my gut feeling that a helmet is even more important than mittens and a snowsuit for winter fun. This is what I found:

Data released in 2012 from the Canadian Institute for Health Information states that "In 2010–2011, there were 2,329 hospital admissions for a skiing or snowboarding fall or crash, compared with 1,114 hockey-related hospitalizations. Other seasonal activities also led to hospital stays: ice skating (889); snowmobiling (1,126); and tobogganing (171)."

" 2010–2011, 415 Canadians were hospitalized for head injuries related to a winter sport or recreational activity; this number has remained relatively stable since 2006–2007.

Last year, nearly one-third (135) of these serious head injuries occurred while skiing or snowboarding. Over the past five years, a total of 759 head injury hospitalizations were related to ski hill activities in Canada."
Yup.  Accidents happen in winter.  Some of those accidents result in serious head injuries.  We can't control the accident, but we can do everything we can to reduce the chance that our kids will experience major head trauma.
I also read an article about another study conducted by the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute in Ottawa.  You can read the entire article here, but I'll share the most compelling line in this story for me:
"....many children with underdeveloped skills are unprepared to protect themselves when they unexpectedly fall or run into objects or other people while participating in winter sports."
You can say that again.  Anyone who has spent any time with kids outside should be able relate to that quote.  In fact, I've been the cause and the victim of falling or being run into unexpectedly - as a child and as an adult.  
This is Emma being silly.... NOT a real accident. But she's still wearing the helmet.
So at this point, some of you are nodding your heads in agreement.  Some of you are feeling guilty. And some of you are rolling your eyes because you think I'm being over-protective. 
If you're in the eye-rolling camp, let me leave you with this.....

Picture a kid on a bike in the summer, riding as fast as possible down a hill. Now, picture that the bike doesn't have brakes and the front wheel is locked so it is almost impossible to steer.  And the kid isn't wearing a helmet.

I'm guessing that you'd be pretty upset if you went to your local park and saw a parent laughing and smiling as the pushed their helmetless kid down a hill on a bike with no brakes or steering.  How is sledding, skiing or skating any different?

1 comment:

  1. Great post Gayle - I remember a time when we were visiting my brother's godmother. Her youngest son was about my age. She received a call from his older brother one snowy afternoon with news that he had hit his head against a tree while sledding down a hill. Of course, he had no helmet. Luckily the only damage was a bump the size of a goose egg. This accident always left me wary of going down hills without my helmet on. Even as an adult, I'd wear one!


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