With snow-capped mountains packed with fresh powder and the thrill of the chill air, skiers and snowboarders are hitting the slopes in droves to carve some fresh tracks.
With as many as 4.2 million Canadians skiing or snowboarding across the country, Preventable, in partnership with Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), is bringing back its winter “Have a word with yourself” campaign to raise awareness and help people prevent head or neck injuries during this ski season.
Today, the Preventable snow team will be at Silver Star Mountain Resort with its “Have a word with yourself” activity, encouraging skiers and snowboarders to don a helmet.
“Helmets save lives and reduce injuries – especially head and neck injuries,” said Bill Adams, IBC vice-president.
“That’s why IBC, with our long history of promoting safety and injury prevention, is happy to partner with Preventable to promote helmet use on B.C. ski hills again this year.”
Every year, more than 5,600 Canadians are seriously injured from winter activities, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
Skiing and snowboarding lead to twice as many hospitalizations as hockey, according to a 2012 study by the CIHI.
“Traumatic head and neck injuries are the leading causes of death for skiers and snowboarders. We’re reminding the public to ‘have a word with themselves,’ and consider the consequences of not taking preventative measures,” says Dr. Ian Pike, spokesperson for Preventable.
“Many of the head and neck injuries sustained can be prevented by wearing a proper helmet.”
In 2010–2011, 2,329 people were admitted to hospital for a skiing or snowboarding fall or crash. In the same period, there were 1,114 hockey-related hospitalizations.
Other winter activities also led to visits to the hospital: ice skating (889); snowmobiling (1,126); and tobogganing (171).
In 2010–2011, 415 Canadians were hospitalized for head injuries related to a winter sport or recreational activity.
Almost a third (135) of these serious head injuries happened to skiers and snowboarders. Over the past five years, a total of 759 head injury hospitalizations happened on the hill.
Helmets have been linked to a 35 per cent reduction in head injury risk for skiers and snowboarders (Smartrisk, 2009).
Each year, BC Children’s Hospital has about 116 visits to its emergency department because of snowboarding injuries, and more than 20 visits related to downhill skiing for those aged 19 and under (Injury Data OnlineTool BCIRPU).
Over 20 tobogganing injuries are seen at the BC Children’s Emergency Department among those aged under 19 years (Injury Data OnlineTool BCIRPU).
The Canadian Ski Council reports that BC has the lowest helmet usage in Canada at only 66 percent. In addition, only 59 per cent of Canadian skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 25 – 34 wear helmets.
It is estimated that each dollar invested in a helmet saves $30 in social costs (thinkfirst.ca).
As part of this campaign, the Preventable snow team will offer skiers and snowboarders without helmets a voucher for a $40 discount on a helmet purchase at the on-site ski shops.
To learn more about helmet safety on the slopes and preventable injuries, visit www.preventable.ca.