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Ski and snow sports enthusiasts should check the quality and condition of any helmets and safety equipment they hire at resorts this season, says Holidaysafe.co.uk.
Amber Howard, brand manager of Holidaysafe.co.uk, said: “Ex-Formula One ace Michael Schumacher’s recent accident has yet again raised the debate on the safety concerns surrounding skilled skiers and whether they should wear helmets. High profile cases such as the death of actress Natasha Richardson in 2009 triggered a major safety campaign.
“Travellers to the slopes who hire equipment must check that the helmet is not damaged and is of a high standard. In Michael Schumacher’s case, the helmet split on impact but did not shatter or fall off. As his doctor confirmed, this saved his life.
“Head injuries constitute around 5% of all ski-related injuries but they are rarely fatal. However head injuries require immediate emergency assistance and skiers should be aware of the cover their policy offers. For example, the cost of helicopter mountain rescue is standard across Europe, usually charged by hour and distance – the average cost is £3,000.
“The other form of mountain rescue available is known as a ‘blood wagon’ (where you are taken down the mountain on a stretcher and skis), and usually costs around £400-£500 in France, and £200 in Austria.
“The majority of ski injury claims are from inexperienced skiers who frequently suffer falls and slips, damaging their hands or knees. Knee and ligament damage also constitutes 40% of all skiing accidents.
“Snowboarders, first-time skiers and children are vulnerable because they are likely to fall frequently and awkwardly. Elbows, arms, wrists and hands are all sensitive areas so wearing protective gear or straps, especially for small children and beginners, will help mitigate any serious injury. ‘Ski thumb’ is a common injury, caused when a skier forgets to drop their ski poles during a fall. Those injured need immediate surgery to ensure long-term recovery of the hand.
“To get the most from the holiday experience, many of our customers travel with their own equipment but forget to buy cover for their skis, boots and bindings. Many winter skiers may find that under a non-specialist ski policy, the general baggage cover is not sufficient to cover their normal clothes and ski equipment – so skiers should always look for specialist ski policies. Airlines are expected to cover the loss of equipment in transit but winter travellers should be aware that certain specialist policies will cover the cost of hiring equipment at the resort – so the holiday is not ruined.”
Holidaysafe.co.uk advice tips for skiers this winter:
Holidaysafe customer and snowboarding enthusiast, Billy Olley, added: “Recent cases such as the Schumacher incident prove that helmets are important, but it’s not just the helmet that would help you, it’s knowing your limits and always keeping your eye out for any dangers. One weekend I tried a freestyle trick but it didn’t go too well, and the end result was me ending up with concussion and in hospital for a check up that evening. I lost my memory, I went numb and also was feeling nauseous. When this happened I unfortunately interrupted my parents’ romantic weekend away to Paris, but thanks to a great insurance company (Holidaysafe, of course!) it was eventually sorted out with no trouble and I made a full recovery.
“Helmets should be mandatory to all those doing any snow-related sports of any age and skill. Pros produce the wrong image of snowboarding by not wearing a helmet and this should be stopped. It makes the future of the sport uncertain as people follow this example and put themselves at risk of not even participating in the sport later in their life. All it takes is one fall and that’s their career over.”
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