This is a new category I’m going to try out, “Stories I pitched that should have been covered but weren’t.” First up is The Great Ski Helmet Debate… here’s how it goes:
Should you or should you not wear a helmet? If you’re asking yourself this question I can see why, put simply: there is a lot of information on both sides of the debate. It’s interesting that something as seemingly innocuous as wearing a helmet on the slopes can become so passionately debated. It reminds me of seat belt debates. Remember those? Seat belts save lives. Okay?
Turns out helmets can reduce skiing and snowboarding head injuries by 60 percent. That’s a lot! Furthermore, recent studies show that wearing a helmet doesn’t equate to more risky behavior on the slopes as often implied by those who don’t approve of wearing them. Those who are prone to risky behavior take risks and ride or ski faster and those who aren’t don’t. Or put another way, wearing a helmet doesn’t change your personality.
It wasn’t that long ago when the only helmets you saw were in competitions. For the US it took the deaths of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy in 1998 to call national attention to the helmet debate. Helmet standards simply didn’t exist yet for recreational skiers and snowboarders. Longtime skiers didn’t want to change their habits and start wearing one and people on ski trips didn’t feel justified to buy one and/or rent one for such a short time. People in general don’t like to wear helmets. But then again, people don’t like to wear seat belts. You’re not planning on getting into a car crash or having an accident on the slopes but we know it does happen.
I found that as recent as 2002 The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a report stating, “Until appropriate standards exist, this risk must be viewed with some caution.” That report basically calls for design standards and more research and since that time there has been plenty of both. Fortunately for the rest of us some cool helmet manufacturers have gotten involved and made helmets a lot more appealing to wear and are constantly improving on the safety design.
One such company is Shred Helmets co-founded by Carlo Salimini and World Champ Ted Ligety. In fact these two had enough vision to realize that your helmet can only do so much and added another safety device designed to help in the actual emergency response. That additional safety device is called ICEdot: an emergency ID and notification service. Every Shred helmet has an ICEdot sticker on it that contains a unique PIN. The skier and/or rider activates the PIN by going online and creating a secure profile while including up to ten emergency contacts (the more the merrier, right?). In an emergency a first responder can text message the PIN to a number and receive a text message back with who that person is and who to call. It also can contain medical information (such as the types of meds the person takes etc.). It’s up to the skier/rider to share as much or as little information as they want. Since most of the ski accidents are head injuries and can (and often do) result in a coma, having a way to identify someone and a more efficient way of contacting their loved ones is a great idea. You may be at a resort but we all know that’s not the only place to ski or ride.
There’s a lot of talk these days about taking healthcare into our own hands via mobile devices and companies like Shred are paying attention. You may not agree with wearing a helmet (and there is STILL a lot of debate) but for now the research supports buying one.