Students who take to the slopes at Pine Knob during special programs this winter will be safer snowboarding and skiing, thanks to a recent donation of 100 snow sports helmets.
Beaumont Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals recently donated the helmets to the School Ski Days program at Pine Knob Ski and Snowboard Resort in Clarkston.
Patrick Deibel, director of the Ski School at Pine Knob and coordinator of the School Ski Days program, explained that the helmets will be available for free for students who typically come without equipment to special outings, rather than those students on ski teams or clubs.
Charges for lift tickets and ski and snowboard rentals are about $55 per outing, not including an additional $10 helmet rental fee, according to the resort website. Cost for the helmets starts at about $50.
Schools that will participate in the School Ski Days program are Roosevelt Primary School in Ferndale, Cody High School and Detroit Service Learning Academy in Detroit, Trinity Lutheran School in Utica, Havel Elementary School in Sterling Heights, and Wilkerson Elementary School in Warren.
Dr. Neal Alpiner, concussion specialist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital, said traumatic head injury is the leading cause of death and serious injury in snow sports and accounts for about half of winter sports injuries in the U.S. Beaumont Children’s Hospital provides health services for infants, children and adolescents throughout the Beaumont Health System and is affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Alpiner noted that there is plenty of evidence that helmets can prevent injuries on the slopes, including findings published in the Journal of Trauma and the Canadian Medical Association Journal that helmet use in snow sports can reduce head injury by up to 60 percent and that skiers’ risk of head injury fell by 35 percent with helmet use.
It’s important that the helmets fit properly, Alpiner said. “Look at the kid’s head, from the back of the head to the chin. The helmet should not wobble,” he said. He recommends purchasing helmets for snow sports from someone who knows ski equipment. “Make sure the person who is fitting you knows what they’re doing.”
The 100 donated helmets come in four sizes and have earflaps for warmth, Deibel said.
“I always wear a helmet,” he said. “Within the last 10 years, most people are wearing helmets.”
Ski racers are required to wear helmets, Deibel said. “Snowboarders need a helmet every time,” he added. “When they go down, they go down hard.”
He added that the helmets are sanitized and aired out after each use.
Alpiner praised the donation for raising community awareness of the importance of wearing helmets for snow sports. He equated it to child car seats now being required and available to those who are in financial need.
“Use a helmet for biking, skiing — anything that involves speed,” he said. “Educational awareness beats out hindsight.”