FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 1999
CONTACT: Ken Giles
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1184
Release # 99-046
Recommends Use of Helmets for Skiers, Snowboarders to Prevent Head Injuries
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is recommending skiers and snowboarders wear helmets to
help prevent head injuries from falls and collisions. In a study released today, the CPSC
staff concluded that helmet use by skiers and snowboarders could prevent or reduce the
severity of 44 percent of head injuries to adults, and 53 percent of head injuries to
children under the age of 15. The proportion of skiing and snowboarding head injuries is
higher in children than in any other age group.
In 1997, there were 17,500 head injuries associated with skiing and snowboarding. The CPSC
study estimates that 7,700 head injuries -- including 2,600 head injuries to children --
could be prevented or reduced in severity each year by using skiing or snowboarding
helmets. The study also shows that helmet use could prevent about 11 skiing- and
snowboarding- related deaths annually.
"We know that helmet use can prevent serious head injuries in a wide variety of
sports and activities, including bicycling and in-line skating," said CPSC Chairman
Ann Brown. "This study of skiing and snowboarding shows that helmets can prevent or
reduce the severity of head injuries on the slopes, just as they do on the streets."
The study of head injuries associated with skiing and snowboarding was conducted as part
of CPSC's ongoing work to reduce head injuries in a variety of sports and activities.
In addition to the CPSC staff study, research in other countries has shown that helmets
can help prevent head injuries to skiers. In Sweden, a national study found that head
injuries among skiers wearing helmets were 50 percent lower than for skiers not wearing
According to the National Sporting Goods Association, nearly 10 million people participate
in alpine skiing more than once each year. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of people who
snowboard increased from 1.8 million to 2.5 million.
The CPSC study found that while overall hospital emergency room-treated injuries
associated with skiing declined substantially between 1993 and 1997, the number of head
injuries remained relatively constant. During the same period, snowboarding injuries
nearly tripled and the number of head injuries from snowboarding increased five-fold.
From 1993 to 1997, the estimated number of hospital emergency room-treated injuries of all
types associated with skiing declined from 114,400 to 84,200. The injuries have dropped,
in part, because of improvements in ski equipment, such as redesigned bindings, which have
reduced injuries to the legs. Head injuries were essentially unchanged at 13,600 in 1993
and 12,700 in 1997. For snowboarding, hospital emergency room treated injuries increased
from 12,600 in 1993 to 37,600 in 1997. The number of head injuries associated with
snowboarding increased from 1,000 in 1993 to 5,200 in 1997.
In addition to wearing helmets specifically designed for skiing or snowboarding, the CPSC
recommends these additional safety tips:
- Select the right equipment, and make sure items
such as bindings and boots are adjusted to fit properly.
- Make sure you have the proper training, and don't
ski or snowboard beyond your ability.
- Ski and snowboard in control, and follow the rules
of the slopes.
- Never ski or snowboard alone. Make sure someone is
there to help you if you get hurt.
- Get in shape before you hit the slopes. Making sure
you are physically fit before you ski or snowboard can help prevent injuries.
- Wear warm, close-fitting clothing. Loose clothing
can become entangled in lifts, tow ropes and ski poles.