Written by Denise Pelletier; Photo: Fotolia.com
Are you aware that one child dies every nine hours in Canada due to a preventable injury? The Cost of Injury in Canada report, released June 2015, indicates that preventable injury is the leading cause of death in Canadians ages 1 to 44. It further adds that preventable injuries claim the lives of more children than any other cause in Canada. These injury costs add up
to $26.8 billion dollars a year across the country, with Alberta leading the way with $4 billion in costs in 2010, the highest number in all provinces.
Children are our most precious asset, and every parent knows just how vulnerable children are to sustaining
an injury. With the ski season upon us, it’s quite likely you have a few family outings planned where you will come together to experience the thrill of skiing down fresh snow with the beautiful mountain scenery as the backdrop.
In 2012, the Canadian Paediatric Society published “Skiing and Snowboarding Injury Prevention,” an article that focused on children and youth, and I was startled to read some of the statistics:
- Head injuries account for the majority of deaths, serious injuries, and significant disabilities sustained while skiing and snowboarding.
- Children and youth are at a higher risk for ski and snowboarding injuries, with children and teens
7 to 17 years of age having higher rates of injury than younger and older skiers.
- 40 to 50 per cent of all injuries that occur while on the hill happen to beginners, often on their first day.
- Male youth seem to be at a higher risk for more severe head and fatal injuries than female youth.
- Skiers younger than 13 years of age using rented
equipment were more likely to be injured than
those using their own equipment.
- Helmet usage on the ski hills in Alberta is not
legislated. And while there has been an increase in helmet usage over the past decade, there is still some room for improvement, among youth in particular.
Below are a few simple steps that will greatly reduce the odds of your kids being part of the 2017 statistics:
- Not all helmets are created equal. Ensure your children wear one of the three internationally certified ski and snowboard helmets that are available in Canada, and ensure the helmet fits properly. Details on the certified approved labels can be found at skicanada.org.
- With findings showing there is an increased injury risk in youth when using rental and/
or borrowed equipment, you need to assess if this is an acceptable risk that you are willing to take. You may find it worth your while to visit a reputable ski equipment retailer to get a better understanding of the potential safety hazards of using rental equipment (including helmets) to ensure you and your children are as fully protected as possible.
- Enrol your children in formal learn-to-ski courses at the resort you are going to so they can learn their techniques with a trained professional who can coach them on having the correct form.
- Always replace a helmet if it’s been dropped onto a hard surface or after one fall or crash because even if there are no visible signs of damage, the impact threshold has likely been reduced.
- As an adult, be the role model for your family and always wear a helmet. Tell your children that no helmet = no skiing!
While these tips are a starting point on what
you should take into consideration when skiing,
it’s important to keep in mind that helmets aren’t concussion-proof and a bit of common sense needs to also come into play. To further minimize the odds of injury, always ensure your children ski in terrain and at speeds that match their ability.
Let’s make a difference in the quality of life of all youth by protecting kids, one helmet at a time!
Denise is a Human Resources Professional and author who, as a brain injury survivor, now advocates for injury prevention. Last year, she authored Emma’s Skiing Adventure, a children’s book that shares the important message of being safe on the slopes. For more information, visit denise-pelletier.com and follow her on Twitter at @dpelletier03.