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  • KIDZGEAR: Children’s Helmets Offer Value and Safety for Winter 2010

    By Iseult Devlin

    Photo courtesy Burton As more winter resorts adopt policies on helmet use especially when it comes to children, it is important to know about the latest helmet trends and news. In early October, Intrawest announced that children participating in its ski and snowboard school would have to don helmets this winter. Also, the company recommends that all skiers and riders wear helmets if visiting an Intrawest resort, so if parents aren’t already wearing them, now’s a good time to start.

    “The move from Intrawest to require helmets for children's lessons and Vail Resort's requirement for on-hill employee to also don head protection shows the dedication these companies have towards safety for their guests and their employees,” says Shaun Cattanaugh of Burton. “While they are certainly not the only companies to set up these safety standards, having two such large resort groups making this move now sheds much more light on the topic.

    When shopping for helmets, parents should make sure the helmet is certified for its intended use so they will know it meets safety standards for skiing or riding. The ASTM F2040 is the primary helmet standard in the U.S., while the CE EN 1077B is the European standard.

    Beyond certification, make sure a helmet fits. Sometimes it is necessary to try on several helmets before finding the right fit for one’s head. Several brands make helmets that are adjustable for children. Uvex, for instance, has an adjustable feature in the back that easily sizes the helmet up or down as needed. Wearing a helmet that is too big or too small can compromise the overall safety of a helmet so make sure it fits and if it doesn’t return it for the right size.

    “Comfort and fit are key when buying a helmet,” says Bob Scales, Giro’s snow brand manager. “If your kid is uncomfortable, they won’t have fun.”

    Another thing to consider when choosing a helmet for a child is the age of the helmet. It should not be too old. It is better to buy new than at swaps or to hand helmets down. The reason for this is a helmet’s shelf life is not all that long because the materials break down after a while. Helmet manufacturers recommend new helmets every two to three years depending on how often one uses the helmet. Also, if a helmet is visibly damaged with dings or if it has been involved in a bad fall, it should be replaced.

    Citing value as an important trend, Burton offers the Trace Grom (under its Red label), which works as a year-round helmet. “It has been certified for use on-snow and on the streets for bikes,” says Cattanaugh, adding that it meets both the ASTM 2040 and CPSC standards. It features a convertible design to give kids warmth in the winter, and the earpads remove to keep heads cool in the summer.

    Giro also has a multi-fit snow helmet called the Encore 2, which is a low-profile, durable hard shell for all-mountain and park use. It comes in small, medium and large. “The Encore 2 is now certified “multi-sport” so kids can use it for snow, skate, and bike,” says Scales. For younger children, Giro’s new Slingshot features a soft and cozy interior to keep kids warm and comfortable. It also features four centimeters of adjustability and is aimed for ages four to seven.

    Helmets retail from about $60-$130 depending on the model. It is also possible to rent helmets at most resorts so that is always an option. Whether buying or renting, it’s always a good choice to wear a helmet.

    Iseult Devlin, a former staff editor at Skiing Magazine, writes frequently about ski and snowboard products and resort travel. Her work has appeared in Outside, Ski, Skiing, Sports Illustrated for Women and others. Devlin is also the author of Winter Sports, A Ragged Mountain Press Womans Guide. During the winters, she instructs children’s ski programs at Stratton Mountain.

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