One of the main causes of injury on the slopes is collision between people. According to the Ski Club of GB:
"25% of accidents are due to collision, either with another person or with a static object such as a tree or safety gates."
That's probably not a surprise to many skiers and snowboarders. Large numbers of people, at varying levels of competency, on the same slippery slope at the same time, is bound to involve some risk.
So in recent years the wearing of crash helmets has become something of a sensible precaution. Manufacturers have also managed to turn them into fashion statements, with a wider choice of funky designs and colours becoming available each year.
A crash helmet will undoubtedly provide some protection in a collision, again the Ski Club of Great Britain has the following stats:
"Wearing a helmet reduces incidence of less serious head injuries by between 30 – 50%. And reduces severity of all head injuries in 50% of cases."
Yet wouldn't it be better to avoid the collision in the first place? Skiing or snowboarding in control, and always within your limits, can be one of the best ways to make sure you are not the cause of injuries. Remember the FIS rules and make sure your children are aware of them too.
The FIS rules, if you don't know what they are, are 10 rules of conduct for the piste and should be followed by skiers and snowboarders alike. The basis of this code of conduct is respecting others and making sure that you are aware that this a potentially dangerous environment. Think of them as a kind of highway code for the mountain.
The 10 rules are:
1. Respect for others - A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others.
2. Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding - A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.
3. Choice of route - A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.
4. Overtaking - A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
5. Entering, starting and moving upwards - A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.
6. Stopping on the piste - Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move clear of the piste as soon as possible.
7. Climbing and descending on foot - A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the piste.
8. Respect for signs and markings - A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.
9. Assistance - At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.
10. Identification - Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.
Whilst all skiers and snowboarders are aware of the buzz, the adrenaline and the excitement of going at speed downhill, respecting the rules will mean that you can enjoy yourselves without being a menace to others.
Being out of control is possibly one of the main causes of accidents so if you can't stay in control get lessons and learn how to adapt to conditions.
So whilst wearing a helmet is sensible, and there will always be accidents that can't be helped, making sure that you, and those that ski or board with you, observe the FIS rules, stay in control and generally have consideration for other mountain users, can help to avoid the accident in the first place!