in the USA alone an average of 39 skiers lose their lives every year (of those an average of 8 were wearing a helmet). The leading cause of death is impact with a static object which is usually a tree or a person. The second highest cause of death (or serious injury) is from a N.A.R.S.I.D. or non-avalanche related snow immersion death this can usually be attributed to those crazy souls who jump cliffs or go into serious powder off-piste and snowboarders make up a larger proportion of those. Another situation often noted is the danger of Ski lifts particularly T bars and Scotland in particular seems to suffer from injuries caused by low flying T’s (it’s often a result of not enough space!).

We were shocked by the death of Natasha Richardson (the wife of Liam Neeson) during a ski trip to Canada in March 2009 and equally shocked by the catastrophic brain injury Michael Schumacher suffered in Meribel, France. So the evidence is clear, skiing or snowboarding can be dangerous and can, if ability, conditions, location and luck are against you, be the cause of your untimely demise!

When you next visit the slopes you will notice far more people wearing a helmet (70 % of all snowsports participants now wear a helmet & in France 90% of children under 12 do the same) but incredibly there are still millions of skiers who choose not to and I guess we should respect their personal choice. In fact some of their arguments make sense; since the use of ski helmets increased fatalities haven’t decreased and the instances of P.S.H.I. (potential serious head injury) have increased. Experts argue though that this is significantly linked to the increase in ‘risky’ behaviour in resorts and the ‘park-rat’ culture of younger skiers and ‘boarders. Can you really risk it though?

So what on earth are we meant to do? The pros and the cons seem to balance each other out! Helmets have definitely moved from geek to cool in recent years and the Brands such as POC, Giro, Dirty Dog have all worked hard at increasing style and safety and prices for decent kid’s helmets certainly won’t break the bank!

Ski & Trek have got a huge selection this year in store and on their website at www.chilloo.co.uk and my personal opinion would be two-fold; 1) Kids must wear helmets all of the time, every time….simple! 2) It is your own personal choice but remember this; Michael Schumacher would have died without a ski helmet and latest reports are now saying that he could in time recover from his injury so thank God for his helmet!

Martin Rouse (helmet wearing Snowboarder!) 13/10/2014