Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

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Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:52 pm UTC

I've been skiing for 20 years and bought my first helmet last month. Only in the last several years have I seen the overwhelming campaign to stick a helmet on every head, and I find it almost laughable how aggressive people are about it.

It reminds me of religious converts who, once they've seen "the light" and their worldview changes, they cease to be able to see things in any other way. Not only can they not see things differently for themselves, but they can't understand why anyone else would see things differently, and they preach their views in a very aggressive and condescending manner.

For example: here's an excerpt of a "helmet awareness" poster that was in the locker room at the ski lodge a while ago, and I'm working from memory, but not exaggerating it at all:
DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR SKULL IS THE THICKNESS OF TWO PENNIES AND YOUR BRAIN IS THE CONSISTENCY OF JELLY? COME TO OUR HELMET AWARENESS SESSION NEXT SATURDAY AND FIND OUT WHAT A HUMAN BRAIN FEELS LIKE.
*WARNING* MATERIAL IS GRAPHIC AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.

Now, I'm all for education and awareness, but this seems nothing more than fear-mongering. It's certainly worked, though - I would say that at the very least, 95% of people wear helmets now at the hill I ski at, where it would have been less than 5% ten years ago. My guess is that it started when helmets were required for the terrain park - the hotshot snowboarders and freestyle skiers all bought helmets, and now it's cool to be wearing a helmet. At about $100 a pop, it's no wonder that the people running ski shops are promoting them as well.

The other thing that concerns me is that people think that helmets will save their life if they ever hit a tree going 60 km/h. In one magazine a person wrote in saying, "Arms and hips can be replaced, but if you get brain damage, that's it." While appreciate the sentiment to an extent, I don't particularly enjoy the notion of skiing with people who believe they can wrap themselves around a tree and be safe as long as they're wearing a helmet. I've split my head open sailing, tobogganing, and drinking in college, but not once has anyone ever preached to me for not wearing a helmet during those activities, and despite being a fairly aggressive skier, I've never had any serious accidents. Conversely, I see snowboarders get wrist injuries daily, but I've never seen such a concentrated effort to get people to wear wrist guards.

All that being said, I was never religiously against them, and aside from the price, the main reason I've waited this long is that I'm a tall guy and can rarely find helmets that fit my head - most XL helmets don't fit, and I found one this year that would fit my head, but only if I took out all the padding. I finally decided to buy one because they're supposedly much warmer than a regular hat. I don't like how it muffles my hearing, though, and if I don't wear a balaclava the wind goes right underneath and freezes my head.

Anyway, what do you think? Do you wear a helmet skiing/snowboarding, and why?
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Grop » Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:34 pm UTC

I don't wear a helmet when snowboarding, and I don't view them as really useful, unless your head hits some rock at low speed. Most hits are received by your limbs or body, and real violent falls risk breaking your neck anyway.

Now, I don't wear any protection on my wrists, which would obviously be higher priority.

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:45 pm UTC

Saying that a helmet isn't particularly useful in a crash is disingenuous. Helmets can and do save lives, even if rarely. I've personally been in a situation where I would have severely benefited from wearing a helmet and am very lucky that I didn't end up needing one. Also, comparing a helmet to a wrist guard is ridiculous. Sure, your wrist can be strained or sprained or even broken while snowboarding, but the consequence of such an injury is significantly milder than that of a head injury.

That said, I don't wear a helmet when I board unless I'm intentionally going off route or into an area that I think would be particularly dangerous.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Sure, your wrist can be strained or sprained or even broken while snowboarding, but the consequence of such an injury is significantly milder than that of a head injury.
They're much more frequent than head injuries, though, so the risks of each are comparable - why is it so blatantly obvious that one form of protection is necessary when the other is just a matter of personal discretion? I regularly observe this attitude that you're stupid if you don't wear a helmet, and that there's no excuse not to wear one, yet I don't see that level of concern when it comes to many other hazards of equal risk.

I'm sure you could find evidence that snowboarders and freestyle skiers that do tricks, jumps, rails, etc are more likely to suffer serious injuries. I watch teenagers fling themselves 20 feet in the air to come crashing to the ground at Big Air competitions. It's another example of making personal decisions to take on certain risks, yet you'll never hear people condemn those activities like they condemn not wearing a helmet - why? Because they sell helmets, but they'll lose lift ticket sales if they take away the jumps and rails.

22/7 wrote:That said, I don't wear a helmet when I board unless I'm intentionally going off route or into an area that I think would be particularly dangerous
Actually, that's another reason I forgot to mention - I've just gotten into glade skiing and in those cases - travelling relatively slowly and in close proximity to trees and branches, not to mention the risk of catching a stump or root - I can appreciate the value of a helmet.
Last edited by uncivlengr on Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:40 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Ledah » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

I find this argument always funny, like the bike helmet or safety belts one. Actually, that last one doesn't count because the safety belt does have a chance of doing more harm than good ( a really small one, just keep using it!). Now a helmet... it might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but in what situation can you say "wow, if only he had left his helmet at home"? Sure it costs money and I couldn't be bothered with one either when I went snowboarding, but I'd never advise against it. The only ill effect I can possibly think of is people getting more reckless; the helmet doesn't make you invincible. But as long as the chance of it saving your life/integrity of your skull exists, it seems like a useful thing to have.

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby AngrySquirrel » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:44 pm UTC

You can all go around hitting your head as much as you will. A friend of mine back in elementary did, currently he's re-learning how to talk. (Yea, yea, anecdotal and all that). But I'll be keeping my helmet on thank you very much. And my wrist-protectors too. Turns out breaking my wrist wasn't all that fun after all.

Edit. for clarifying my point. I don't really do any alpine activities so this is rather general.

But basically, I'd rather break my wrist 10 times than get my brain squished once.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby peter-lebt » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

In a recent skiing accident the head of the German state Thüringen Dieter Althaus crashed into a woman.
He wore a helmet, she did not, and she died from her injuries on her head.
He had to be put into a coma for several days.
This happened beginning of January.
Now he is said to be quite well and he could come back to work in March ...

I used to ski without any sophisticated equipment - also without helmet.
The last years I did not ski anymore - and if I would again ... I think I would wear a helmet ...
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:13 pm UTC

I don't ski very recklessly, and while that's no excuse to wear a helmet, I should definitely be wearing one.

I used to not wear a helmet while biking, but both my dad and myself have been in some really nasty spills, and now I swear by it. Plus, my helmet makes me look fast.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:23 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:They're much more frequent than head injuries, though, so the risks of each are comparable - why is it so blatantly obvious that one form of protection is necessary when the other is just a matter of personal discretion?
For the reason I and others here have given already. A broken wrist, while painful and inconvenient, aren't the end of the world. A broken head is.
I regularly observe this attitude that you're stupid if you don't wear a helmet, and that there's no excuse not to wear one, yet I don't see that level of concern when it comes to many other hazards of equal risk.
First of all, that's not my attitude at all, so don't put words in my mouth. Secondly, explain to me how they aren't helpful in collisions, because that's pretty much all I was saying. If you're just frustrated that helmets get more attention than wrist guards, then, well, I don't know why you'd start a thread about wearing helmets. If you're saying that they're more hassle than they're worth, I don't know if I can agree with that, certainly not as an across-the-board statement.
I'm sure you could find evidence that snowboarders and freestyle skiers that do tricks, jumps, rails, etc are more likely to suffer serious injuries. I watch teenagers fling themselves 20 feet in the air to come crashing to the ground at Big Air competitions. It's another example of making personal decisions to take on certain risks, yet you'll never hear people condemn those activities like they condemn not wearing a helmet - why? Because they sell helmets, but they'll lose lift ticket sales if they take away the jumps and rails.
So wait, because people who nearly universally wear helmets while they do dangerous sports don't get chastised for doing a dangerous sport... people who don't wear helmets while they do a dangerous sport shouldn't get chastised for not wearing a helmet? I'm not sure what your point is.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:A broken wrist, while painful and inconvenient, aren't the end of the world. A broken head is.
So why take the risk of a head injury at all?

22/7 wrote:First of all, that's not my attitude at all, so don't put words in my mouth.
I wasn't intending to imply that I took that from your statements - it's just a general observation.

22/7 wrote:Secondly, explain to me how they aren't helpful in collisions, because that's pretty much all I was saying. If you're just frustrated that helmets get more attention than wrist guards, then, well, I don't know why you'd start a thread about wearing helmets. If you're saying that they're more hassle than they're worth, I don't know if I can agree with that, certainly not as an across-the-board statement.
As I already said, I have nothing against wearing helmets in any way. My "frustration" is with people who think that it's their responsibility to preach the risks associated with the activity, when I'm full aware of the consequences of my actions.

22/7 wrote:So wait, because people who nearly universally wear helmets while they do dangerous sports don't get chastised for doing a dangerous sport... people who don't wear helmets while they do a dangerous sport shouldn't get chastised for not wearing a helmet? I'm not sure what your point is.
Neither should be chastised as far as I'm concerned, but if we're going to pick one or the other to condemn for intentionally engaging in risky activities, it should be the one that engages in an activity that is much more dangerous and suffers more serious injuries on a daily basis.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:49 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:So why take the risk of a head injury at all?
Because not doing so is impractical if not impossible for daily life and especially for engaging in the activity we're talking about, which you already knew.
As I already said, I have nothing against wearing helmets in any way. My "frustration" is with people who think that it's their responsibility to preach the risks associated with the activity, when I'm full aware of the consequences of my actions.
So the thread is all about how you think it's shitty that some people are overly zealous about helmets for skiing or snowboarding. And you decided this needed a thread in Fit Club?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:04 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:So the thread is all about how you think it's shitty that some people are overly zealous about helmets for skiing or snowboarding. And you decided this needed a thread in Fit Club?
The thread was intended to discuss the various reasons people have for wearing a helmet, or not. Is it a serious concern for you that I started this thread?
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Klotz » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:29 pm UTC

I didn't wear a helmet until my recent ski trip. It was fine. Didn't block my view, kept my head warm. I didn't really lose out on anything from wearing it.

Safety devices like helmets are kind of like Pascal's wager. If you wear it and don't fall, you look kind of dorky. If you fall and don't wear it, you can fuck yourself up.

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

Klotz wrote:Safety devices like helmets are kind of like Pascal's wager. If you wear it and don't fall, you look kind of dorky. If you fall and don't wear it, you can fuck yourself up.
That's an excellent way of summarizing it, especially because I think it's flawed in this context exactly as it is in its original context :D
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Klotz » Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

Can you elaborate?

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:19 am UTC

Well people generally reject Pascal's Wager for a number of reasons - to apply those reasons to the helmet issue, it assumes that

a) you won't "fuck yourself up" if you wear a helmet
b) the only reason for not wearing a helmet is to avoid looking dorky, and
c) that the probabilities of falling and not falling are comparable

Again, I think it's a perfect analogy to how many people view this issue, and though there are certainly good reasons to wear a helmet, I don't believe that is one of them.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Ledah » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:23 am UTC

I don't know why you're so anti helmet promotion campaigns. They have every right to promote the products they sell, and every right to make money from them. You can complain that they're too expensive if that's the case, but they're there to run a business, like everyone else around the globe. And it's not like they're telling anything that isn't true. Wearing a helmet might not be like encasing yourself with an aura of invincibility, but it does provide extra protection that will in certain circumstances save you from brain damage/death. As I said before, there's no real reason to not wear it besides "I can't be bothered to get/use one".

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Klotz » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:09 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Well people generally reject Pascal's Wager for a number of reasons - to apply those reasons to the helmet issue, it assumes that

a) you won't "fuck yourself up" if you wear a helmet
b) the only reason for not wearing a helmet is to avoid looking dorky, and
c) that the probabilities of falling and not falling are comparable

Again, I think it's a perfect analogy to how many people view this issue, and though there are certainly good reasons to wear a helmet, I don't believe that is one of them.


You don't agree that helmets reduce the chance of head injury if you fall?

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:37 am UTC

Klotz wrote:You don't agree that helmets reduce the chance of head injury if you fall?
I agree that they reduce the chance of head injury under certain conditions. People here may diminish the severity of other injuries, but you're still susceptible to brain injury in situations beyond the limits of the helmet, damaging any number of other vital organs, breaking bones causing permanent damage, and being paralyzed anywhere from the neck down.

In my mind, it's more effective to realize this and adjust your behaviour accordingly than strapping some plastic and styrofoam to your head and think it makes running into a tree even marginally safer.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:27 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Well people generally reject Pascal's Wager for a number of reasons - to apply those reasons to the helmet issue, it assumes that
Let me go on record by saying that I disagree with the application of Pascal's Wager to this, but if we must, we must.
a) you won't "fuck yourself up" if you wear a helmet
Uh, no, it doesn't. At all. Ever. It assumes that you'll have a better chance of not fucking yourself up really badly or dying, which is true. And the fact that this is essentially "heaven" is one of the reasons this analogy doesn't work.
b) the only reason for not wearing a helmet is to avoid looking dorky, and
Again, no, it doesn't. It assumes that the most damage wearing a helmet can cause is looking dorky. But that's a little different than altering your entire life and belief system to avoid Hell, which may or may not exist. Another reason why Pascal's Wager isn't a good analogy.
c) that the probabilities of falling and not falling are comparable
It doesn't begin to assume this at all. Just because there are only two outcomes doesn't mean that the probability of each is comparable. Additionally, you're misrepresenting what we're talking about (albeit to your disadvantage, which is an odd tactic). The gamble is whether or not you'll need the helmet, not whether or not you'll fall. I can tumble down a closed double diamond where there's more rock than snow and not need the helmet if I just get really lucky about where my head falls and how. Then again, I could happen to eat it on a nice open green that happens to have a patch of ice and give myself a pretty nasty concussion.
Again, I think it's a perfect analogy to how many people view this issue, and though there are certainly good reasons to wear a helmet, I don't believe that is one of them.
So you don't wear a seat belt? Because a good analogy is the seat belt analogy. Unless you're a terrible driver or just have really bad luck, you're not going to get into a collision that requires a seat belt very often. So you have two options. You can not wear the seat belt in the hopes that it won't happen to you or you can wear it with the understanding that you're still not invincible.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:47 pm UTC

Ledah wrote:I don't know why you're so anti helmet promotion campaigns. They have every right to promote the products they sell, and every right to make money from them.
I've expressed a concern that these campaigns don't address the myriad of other issues that would reduce the chance of serious injury during these activities - it's always just about helmets, not about slowing down, or about any other form of protection. I'm not "anti-helmet", I'm just "pro-other alternatives".

...and I haven't said anything about "rights", either - I'm not demanding that anything be prohibited, unlike many helmet-pushing zealots who would like to see compulsory helmet regulations on ski hills. I'm perfectly happy with people wearing helmets as long as they don't talk down to me as if I'm not capable of addressing my own personal safety, especially since I'm not putting anyone else at risk in doing so.

Ledah wrote:As I said before, there's no real reason to not wear it besides "I can't be bothered to get/use one".
I can think of a few issues, and I've only had mine for a few weeks now, many of which I've already mentioned - it's was difficult to find one that fits properly, it's uncomfortable having to wear it with no internal padding, it's not warm at all without a balaclava, and it impairs my hearing. If I'm skiing down the hill distracted by the headache I've got from wearing an uncomfortable helmet, or can't hear things around me clearly, it could potentially cause an accident that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. Personally, I'd rather just minimize the chances of an accident, rather than mitigate the situation when I am involved in an accident.


22/7 wrote:
a) you won't "fuck yourself up" if you wear a helmet
Uh, no, it doesn't. At all. Ever. It assumes that you'll have a better chance of not fucking yourself up really badly or dying, which is true. And the fact that this is essentially "heaven" is one of the reasons this analogy doesn't work.
Pascal's wager is typically phrased, "if I live as if God existed and he does exist, I'll go to heaven" - in the context as given by Klotz it would be "if I wear a helmet and I do fall, I won't be fucked up." Klotz used the outcome of falling, not of "needing a helmet" - that was your argument.
22/7 wrote:
b) the only reason for not wearing a helmet is to avoid looking dorky, and
Again, no, it doesn't. It assumes that the most damage wearing a helmet can cause is looking dorky.
Fine, but I've already explained why I believe it isn't the most damage it can cause considering personal circumstances - there may be instances in which it can in fact cause more damage than "dorkiness", like distracting me into running into the trees.
22/7 wrote:
c) that the probabilities of falling and not falling are comparable
It doesn't begin to assume this at all. Just because there are only two outcomes doesn't mean that the probability of each is comparable.
To paraphrase Pascal's Wager, since we can't know the nature of God, belief in God comes down to a coin flip. I'm not saying that's true, I'm saying it's an assumption made in Pascal's Wager and by many people who assume they can't predict whether or not they'll need a helmet. In reality, people can choose their actions in a way that significantly reduces the probability of ever needing a helmet, and are more likely to do so if they know they don't have that insurance.

22/7 wrote:The gamble is whether or not you'll need the helmet, not whether or not you'll fall.
That's your argument, not the one Klotz offered and that I was addressing.

22/7 wrote:So you don't wear a seat belt? Because a good analogy is the seat belt analogy. Unless you're a terrible driver or just have really bad luck, you're not going to get into a collision that requires a seat belt very often. So you have two options. You can not wear the seat belt in the hopes that it won't happen to you or you can wear it with the understanding that you're still not invincible.
I do wear a seatbelt, because it doesn't inhibit my ability to drive in any way. As I've expressed a few times now, I personally feel that in some circumstances I'm more inhibited by the helmet than the extra insurance it provides me. In other circumstances, such as glade skiing, I appreciate having a helmet, and that's why I bought one. Why is it that for some, I can't make that decision on my own?
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:27 pm UTC

Ok, I'm going to address one point here. You claim that a seat belt doesn't impair your ability to drive. I maintain that, to a certain extent, it does. I've been pulling up to a stoplight before and leaning forward to try to see if there's oncoming traffic and been stopped by my seat belt. I've had it be uncomfortable or had it wrinkle my clothes on the way to an interview. All of these things, while minor, are ways that a seat belt could be what you're thinking about rather than driving, which means it could hinder your ability to drive. Every issue you took with helmets with the exception of being able to hear as well (which really isn't that big of a deal since it's not much different than having a good hat on and even if it were significantly more muffling it shouldn't effect your skiing/boarding much, other than to make you more cautious) are issues of you having a helmet that doesn't fit. It's certainly possible that you have a head that is too large for most helmet makers, and that's unfortunate, but that's a far cry from "helmets shouldn't be pushed as preventative safety". Once we've addressed this issue, we can talk about why a helmet is a legitimate, reasonable preventative measure for alpine sports while things like body armor aren't.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:All of these things, while minor, are ways that a seat belt could be what you're thinking about rather than driving, which means it could hinder your ability to drive.
In your circumstances, sure, but I've never had those concerns, so it's a non-issue for me. If you decided your personal reasons for not wearing a seatbelt exceeded those for wearing a seatbelt, it's your decision (or that of a police officer if it's a law where you're driving).

That you're telling me, a complete stranger, that my hearing doesn't matter to me when I'm skiing is the kind of attitude I'm talking about - you simply assume you know better than I do what I do or don't need, whereas I've not once insisted that someone else shouldn't wear a helmet if they have a good reason to choose to wear one.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby 22/7 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:30 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:In your circumstances, sure, but I've never had those concerns, so it's a non-issue for me. If you decided your personal reasons for not wearing a seatbelt exceeded those for wearing a seatbelt, it's your decision (or that of a police officer if it's a law where you're driving).

That you're telling me, a complete stranger, that my hearing doesn't matter to me when I'm skiing is the kind of attitude I'm talking about - you simply assume you know better than I do what I do or don't need, whereas I've not once insisted that someone else shouldn't wear a helmet if they have a good reason to choose to wear one.
I'm not assuming I know better than you, I'm saying I don't view your complaints as particularly valid on a large scale. Plenty of people ski/board very safely with thick hats or helmets on and I know from personal experience that hearing isn't particularly crucial to being safe on a mountain, as it's quite easy to be safe with headphones on. Again, if you want to talk about the relative safety of using a helmet vs not or using a helmet vs using wrist guards, that's fine. But if you want to talk about the way in which some companies push helmets (and this appears to be what you really want to talk about), well, that's not really a Fit Club TopicTM. It doesn't personally change my day much one way or the other, it's just a kind of misleading place to talk about such a topic.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby gaurwraith » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:05 pm UTC

Why not wear a helmet all the time then. In everyday life I mean. Some lifes would surely be saved
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Ledah » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:33 pm UTC

Because people fall all the time when skying/snowboarding, specially when learning, and they don't fall all the time when walking on the street.

I can think of a few issues, and I've only had mine for a few weeks now, many of which I've already mentioned - it's was difficult to find one that fits properly, it's uncomfortable having to wear it with no internal padding, it's not warm at all without a balaclava, and it impairs my hearing. If I'm skiing down the hill distracted by the headache I've got from wearing an uncomfortable helmet, or can't hear things around me clearly, it could potentially cause an accident that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. Personally, I'd rather just minimize the chances of an accident, rather than mitigate the situation when I am involved in an accident.


Oh sorry, I meant: "As I said before, there's no real reason to not wear a good helmet besides "I can't be bothered to get/use one"."
I understand the good ones aren't all lining up in the store ready for the picking, and I wouldn't use an uncomfortable helmet either. I'm just saying, if you have a chance of using a comfortable one and you don't, you're doing it at your own risk. Also, saying helmets don't replace being careful is like saying airbags don't replace careful driving. Of course they don't, they're not some magic item of eternal life; what you really want is not to need a helmet at all. However, for those times that being careful isn't enough, the helmet increases the chances of getting out with your skull in one piece.

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:32 pm UTC

Ledah wrote:Oh sorry, I meant: "As I said before, there's no real reason to not wear a good helmet besides "I can't be bothered to get/use one"."
I understand the good ones aren't all lining up in the store ready for the picking, and I wouldn't use an uncomfortable helmet either.
Actually, I tried every helmet I could find and spent over $100 on what I was under the impression was a "good helmet" from a reputable brand, so my "chances" of getting a better one are limited. I'm not complaining about the helmet makers' design - I'm above average in height and have a correspondingly above average head size. I'm just explaining why the issue isn't as black and white as it may be for other people.

Ledah wrote:I'm just saying, if you have a chance of using a comfortable one and you don't, you're doing it at your own risk.
Of course it's at my own risk, I've been saying that this whole time. Anyone who steps onto a ski hill in the first place does so at their own risk, and it's their personal responsibility to decide if that risk is worth taking.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:45 pm UTC

I carry a helmet whilst engaged in alpinism, whether that be skiing, ski touring/mountaineering, climbing, scrambling and other such malarky. I wear it when I need it, so if I climb something with loose stuff, or using axes, ski up/down a slope with trees/rocks/hard snow layers near the surface it can go on. Skiing on clear deep powder, I'd probably consider leaving it off. My reason is that I like my head as it is, and am sufficently silly/bashful to occasionally use it to deflect objects or stop myself in a hurry.

IMHO, Not having a helmet is silly, but as it's an individual choice, it's nothing to get worked up about if someone doesn't; Whether you wear a helmet or not is nowhere near as important as ensuring that If you do wear a helmet, it's designed for purpose, and fits your head properly.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby PhatPhungus » Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:05 pm UTC

I do wear a helmet when I snowboard, even though I'm not that good, but that's because I go by the saying "if you're not falling, you're not trying". Which means that a helmet has come in handy several times.

That being said, I have to side with uncivlengr on this one. It's a personal choice to wear a helmet, and I think in many cases the benefits of helmet wearing are overemphasized. Helmets should not be required, but present in case you should want one.

The amount of risk taken by simply going on the slopes is something to consider, whether or not that risk is reduced by wearing a helmet, and it is for the skier to decide whether it is worth it to spend the money, and take the inconvenience of wearing a helmet.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Team503 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:20 pm UTC

I live in Texas, so this whole "fictional powdery white stuff that falls from the sky" thing is a bit silly to me, but I'll chip in on the helmet briefly.

I ride a motorcycle, and when I ride, I wear a full-faced helmet. I got hit by a taxi, suffered many injuries, a severe concussion among them. According to the EMTs on the scene, without a helmet I would be dead. Best "waste" of $650 I ever spent.

Regarding your fictitious "snow" activities, I would suggest that any activity that has a reasonably high rate of head injury - such as high speed, downhill travel on a slope that includes large, heavy, and (for our purposes) immovable objects, for example - should include helmet use. After all, while it's not terribly likely to happen, there's a pretty fair chance of it occurring, and as my MSF instructor put it:

I like my head. I like it where it is. I like the way it looks, and I like the shape it's in. I like that it's attached to my shoulders and in one piece. I'd like to keep it that way, so I wear a helmet.

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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

Just my two cents after this last weekend of skiing in Utah:
I've been skiing since I was about 8 years old, and never wore a helmet until this last trip, mostly due to laziness. Considering some of the accidents I've been in, I count myself very lucky. I cannot think of a legitimate argument for not wearing a helmet anymore. It does not impede your vision, nor your hearing (I sometimes ski with headphones on anyone). I'm sold, I'll always wear a helmet from now on.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby MotorToad » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:30 pm UTC

I'm a helmet-wearing fool. I've tested several in real-life situations including gently placing my head on a phone pole after a 20' drop on my mountain bike.

Even if you're not severely injured when you bop your head, it ads up. This sucks like you have no idea. Complete mind-fucking levels of suck.

Your brain didn't evolve with the protection to be hurled at trees at even 20 mph.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:21 pm UTC

MotorToad wrote:Even if you're not severely injured when you bop your head, it ads up. This sucks like you have no idea. Complete mind-fucking levels of suck.
That would be a fair point if ski helmets prevented concussions, but they don't.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby MotorToad » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:That would be a fair point if ski helmets prevented concussions, but they don't.

Anything that increases the time it takes for the brain to slow down decreases concussions.

g= (vo-vf)/t

A cursory glance at ski helmets in Google informs me that they have a shell and a lining.
Shells

* Most ski helmets have a UV stabilized polycarbonite shell that provides high strength and light weight
* The helmet interior is usually made of expanded, double-density polystyrene (18mm) with additional lining for comfort and protection


Since the brain stops while compressing that lining it is going to take time. If there's any way that isn't going to reduce concussions, I'd certainly like to hear it.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:16 pm UTC

MotorToad wrote:Since the brain stops while compressing that lining it is going to take time. If there's any way that isn't going to reduce concussions, I'd certainly like to hear it.
The lining a thin layer for comfort - it serves absolutely no purpose in terms of increasing the safety of the helmet, and the hard, high density foam that actually makes up the helmet's structure is more likely to fracture on impact than to crush. Most people that have a serious crash in which the helmet had prevented skull damage do receive concussions. This isn't a fact disputed by helmet proponents...

The Brain Injury Resource Foundation wrote:Micky Collins, assistant director of the sports medicine concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, also advocates helmets for skiers. Collins, who assists the National Football League and the National Hockey League in developing safer helmets, agrees with Shealy that there’s not a lot of data supporting the safety of ski helmets. But the data suggest that since helmets became more popular on slopes, skiers and snowboarders have concussions instead of more serious injuries, such as fractures or bleeding inside the skull, Collins said.


If you're still skeptical, test it out yourself with the liner from your helmet - stick it to a tree and hit your head on it and let me know if it's any less painful than if the liner wasn't there, or if you're comfortable trusting it to prevent concussions.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby MotorToad » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:51 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:... the hard, high density foam that actually makes up the helmet's structure is more likely to fracture on impact than to crush. ...
There is a problem with the helmet if it fractures. Arguing that its purpose doesn't exist because the device fails to perform it is ridiculous.
uncivlengr wrote:
The Brain Injury Resource Foundation wrote:Micky Collins, assistant director of the sports medicine concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, also advocates helmets for skiers. Collins, who assists the National Football League and the National Hockey League in developing safer helmets, agrees with Shealy that there’s not a lot of data supporting the safety of ski helmets. But the data suggest that since helmets became more popular on slopes, skiers and snowboarders have concussions instead of more serious injuries, such as fractures or bleeding inside the skull, Collins said.
Wait... are you trying to tell me that getting a concussion instead of a fractured skull means that helmets don't prevent concussions? Really? Think about that for a little while.

uncivlengr wrote:If you're still skeptical, test it out yourself with the liner from your helmet - stick it to a tree and hit your head on it and let me know if it's any less painful than if the liner wasn't there, or if you're comfortable trusting it to prevent concussions.
Read my post again... I've tested helmets. And not just that one I mentioned. I'll admit I don't know shit about ski helmets, I live in Florida, "snow" comes in plastic bags. If those helmets are built poorly and fail I don't know anything about it. There's no standard for testing them like DOT or the SNELL foundation so any data beyond the undeniable and obvious fact that the lining reduces the g forces on the brain is anecdotal. Even a shitty helmet will increase the "t" in the equation I posted above.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:12 pm UTC

MotorToad wrote:There is a problem with the helmet if it fractures. Arguing that its purpose doesn't exist because the device fails to perform it is ridiculous.
No, it's a property of the foam that they use to make ski helmets that makes them fracture with high impact forces. The point is, it doesn't compress or crush when you get into the range of impact forces that cause concussions, so the majority of the energy from the impact still reaches your head.

A helmet works by dissipating the force over a larger area of your head to prevent fractures - that's its purpose - but the area of your brain that comes in contact with your skull doesn't change.
MotorToad wrote:Wait... are you trying to tell me that getting a concussion instead of a fractured skull means that helmets don't prevent concussions? Really? Think about that for a little while.
I'm demonstrating that experts don't deny that concussions still occur when helmets are worn while skiing/snowboarding - so far you've offered nothing substantial to prove your claims that they're prevented.

MotorToad wrote:Read my post again... I've tested helmets. And not just that one I mentioned. I'll admit I don't know shit about ski helmets, I live in Florida, "snow" comes in plastic bags. If those helmets are built poorly and fail I don't know anything about it. There's no standard for testing them like DOT or the SNELL foundation so any data beyond the undeniable and obvious fact that the lining reduces the g forces on the brain is anecdotal. Even a shitty helmet will increase the "t" in the equation I posted above.
For the sake of others, you might have considered acknowledging the fact that you don't know "shit" about the topic of this thread before spouting off with vague references to equations that you haven't even taken the time to examine closely.

In fact, there is a Snell Standard on helmets for skiing (and there has been since 1998) and it specifically states in the standard itself (emphasis added):
S-98 wrote:Most skiing helmets are intended to accommodate a range of head sizes and shapes. Various thickness' of resilient lining material may be placed within otherwise identical helmets during production to configure the fit to several different ranges of head size. This resilient padding does not significantly affect the way the helmet absorbs and attenuates impact and is not directly addressed in this Standard.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby MotorToad » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:46 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
S-98 wrote:Most skiing helmets are intended to accommodate a range of head sizes and shapes. Various thickness' of resilient lining material may be placed within otherwise identical helmets during production to configure the fit to several different ranges of head size. This resilient padding does not significantly affect the way the helmet absorbs and attenuates impact and is not directly addressed in this Standard.

Jesus fucksocks. The "resilient padding" is the goddamn soft fluffy lining, not the fucking polystyrene impact absorption material. Christ on a stick, learn to read. Seriously, I'm done here. You need to look up some stuff on how head injuries are affected by g forces applied to the brain.

If you don't like how ski helmets are built, then get a motocross helmet, or a bicycle helmet, or a fucking football helmet. I don't care. Saying a helmet doesn't reduce concussions is just fucking stupid. It reduces the forces applied to the brain. How the fuck is this hard to understand?
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:31 pm UTC

MotorToad wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:
S-98 wrote:Most skiing helmets are intended to accommodate a range of head sizes and shapes. Various thickness' of resilient lining material may be placed within otherwise identical helmets during production to configure the fit to several different ranges of head size. This resilient padding does not significantly affect the way the helmet absorbs and attenuates impact and is not directly addressed in this Standard.

Jesus fucksocks. The "resilient padding" is the goddamn soft fluffy lining, not the fucking polystyrene impact absorption material.
I'm quite aware of what the lining in my helmet consists of. You're the one that indicated that the lining compresses to reduce concussions;
MotorToad wrote:A cursory glance at ski helmets in Google informs me that they have a shell and a lining.
Shells

* Most ski helmets have a UV stabilized polycarbonite shell that provides high strength and light weight
* The helmet interior is usually made of expanded, double-density polystyrene (18mm) with additional lining for comfort and protection
Since the brain stops while compressing that lining it is going to take time. If there's any way that isn't going to reduce concussions, I'd certainly like to hear it.
As I've already explained, the helmet interior (ie, the double-density polystyrene, not the plastic shell and not the "soft fluffy lining") doesn't compress significantly on impact unless you break it, so your argument isn't valid. That you've confused the lining with the interior is a problem with your reading comprehension, not mine, Mr. potty mouth.
MotorToad wrote:Christ on a stick, learn to read. Seriously, I'm done here.
Frankly, I'd rather you didn't post in the thread if you can't have a simple discussion without resorting to profanity, and given the apparent extent of your knowledge on the matter, I'm not worried about missing out on anything.

MotorToad wrote:If you don't like how ski helmets are built, then get a motocross helmet, or a bicycle helmet, or a fucking football helmet. I don't care.
I didn't claim I don't like how ski helmets are built, and I'm quite confident that the designers know better than I do, and a heck of a lot better than you, too. I'm just aware of the fact that my helmet won't protect me from certain types of injury, like concussions, and I'm undoubtedly safer with that knowledge, rather than making assumptions based on comments from a guy who has to look up ski helmets on Google to find out what they're made of.

MotorToad wrote:Saying a helmet doesn't reduce concussions is just fucking stupid. It reduces the forces applied to the brain.
Nope; as I've said repeatedly, ski helmets are designed to reduce the stress on the skull, not reduce the force. There's simply not a lot of cushioning that would allow it to reduce the peak force on the skull, unless you hit it so hard that it breaks the helmet, which is well beyond the force that can cause a concussion.
MotorToad wrote:How the fuck is this hard to understand?
Apparently it's so hard that all you can do is swear about it and make vague references to high school physics equations. All I want is for you to back up your claim that ski helmets prevent concussions.

Well maybe someone else will do it for you, since you're "seriously" done here.
Last edited by uncivlengr on Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:36 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wearing a helmet during alpine activities.

Postby yazdi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

I want you to think of two things:

1. A concussion is referred to as first degree traumatic brain injury (direct translation of "Schädel-Hirn Trauma 1. Grades", not sure if that's exactly how one would put it in English). Intracranial hemorrhage is third degree.

First degree injuries normally have no lasting effects, third degree trauma has a huge percentage of permanent disability, especially with certain diagnoses (e.g. subdural bleeding), very high lethality (up to 90%) and in practically all cases leads to a lengthy and expensive stay in an ICU.

In very many cases that is the difference between wearing a helmet and not. And as I've heard lots of driving instructors say (referring to motorcyclists, but just as accurate in this case):
There are only two types of people: Those who have already crashed and those that will.

2. I'm not entirely sure whether that's how EMS works in the US, but where I work (Austria) such severe injuries are transported by helicopter whenever weather permits. That means that at least 3 people have to risk their lives for someone who wasn't in the mood to wear a helmet.

Practically every day I'm on duty I can see our helicopters flying to such accidents in our dispatch system, and such flights are not exactly the safest thing on could do (white-out, steel cables etc.), so please don't say that the only person that decision has any effect on is you.


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