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13 November 2018 | Comment | Article by Mark Harvey

Staying safe on the slopes this winter: the dangers of not wearing a helmet


This ski season, thousands of people will be travelling around the world to enjoy their fun filled, active winter holidays.

However, a survey of 3,500 people conducted by snow sports insurer, Columbus Direct, revealed that a third (34%) of people would not wear a helmet while on the slopes. Columbus Direct also found that 60% of people interviewed said that they would continue to avoid wearing a helmet despite the risks.

This blog will look at why you should wear a helmet; the dangers of not protecting yourselves on the slopes and provides a checklist to ensure that you stay safe on your skiing holiday.

Why should I wear a helmet?

Firstly, it is important to say that serious accidents on the slopes are rare but you should always make sure that you provide yourself with the best possible protection.

When out on the slopes, skiers can easily reach high speeds and it can be very easy to become involved in a collision and cause serious harm to yourself. Novice and experienced skiers can lose their balance easily and can sustain nasty injuries, including head injuries.

A helmet could provide vital protection to your head and minimise serious injury.

A Guardian article on ski safety also notes that ‘2 out of 3skiers and snowboarders who had been in a collision but had not suffered an injury said that they always wore helmets … head injuries are particularly serious given that they are the most frequent cause of death and severe disability.’

Headway, the UK’s national brain injury charity, also strongly supports the use of helmets and has pointed towards clear evidence supporting their use

The dangers of not protecting yourself on the slopes

There have been many high profile winter sports accidents, one of which involved Michael Schumacher in 2013. Despite suffering very serious injuries, Michael’s medical team stated in a press conference that this incident would more than likely have been fatal if he had not worn protection. Professor Jean-Francois Payen stated “Somebody having this kind of accident without the helmet would not have got to here”.

In March 2009, the actress, Natasha Richardson, sustained ahead injury when she fell while taking a beginners skiing lesson at a ski resort just outside of Montreal. Unfortunately, Natasha died as a result of her injuries.

Your safety checklist this winter

The travel association ABTA have provided a #SkiSafe checklist. The checklist provides a list of important things you need to remember when going on your winter holiday this year:

  • Helmet – Wearing a helmet is vital to protect your head and not wearing one could invalidate your insurance
  • Correct insurance – Make sure you have the correct insurance. If you are heading to Europe remember to take a valid EHIC card.
  • Goggles – Well fitted goggles or sunglasses protect you from adverse weather conditions and from UV rays and help you to have better vision making it easier to spot hazards as they arise.
  • Boots – Comfortable boots can make a huge difference on the slopes – so make sure yours are well fitted. This will allow you to concentrate on your skiing and not on pain from your boots!
  • Off-piste kit – If you are heading off-piste exercise extreme caution. Take a guide and carry the correct equipment to include a shovel; avalanche transmitter; mobile phone and cash.

Should you, or anybody you know have suffered from from a brain or spinal cord injury as a result of a skiing accident then please get in touch for legal advice.

Author bio

Mark Harvey is a Partner in the claimant division. He has obtained compensation for many individual victims of common but defective consumer products as well as victims of accidents overseas and arising out of travel generally.

Mark is the court appointed lead solicitor coordinating over 1,000 claimants in a group litigation order (GLO) arising out of the recall and health alert relating to the French manufacturer’s PIP silicone breast implants.

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