Helmets: fashion accessory, true safety device, or useless accessory to calm overprotective parents? The answer: two of the above. A recent study, while not addressing the fashion aspect, did report a significant difference in the incidence of skull fractures between skiers and snowboarders who wore helmets vs. those who didn’t. The difference? A headache-inducing 30 percent.
In the study, 5.3 percent of trauma patients who wore a helmet sustained skull fractures, vs. 37 percent in those not wearing a helmet. Of the 57 patient records from 2003-2009 included in the study, there was one death. That patient was not wearing a helmet.
Though the results of this New England study are specific to skiers and snowboarders, the difference between helmeted and unhelmeted patients is certainly enough to show the wisdom of wearing a helmet, no matter the sport: what holds true on the slopes holds true on the streets as well. Nationally, the use of bike helmets is currently at only 15 percent, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that universal bike helmet usage among children would prevent 40,000 head injuries per year.
As for the fashion aspect, if your kid (or spouse, for that matter) tells you they don’t want to wear a helmet because it’s not cool, you can explain to them how a skull fracture is not very cool either. Then point them to super-cool helmets for street and snow from Nutcase or Bell, or mark your calendar for July, when Yakkay helmets (which don’t even look like helmets) will be available in the U.S.
Whether your child is heading out to ride the streets or the slopes, tell them: “Put a lid on it.”