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CHEO Promotes Helmet Awareness During Winterlude

OTTAWA – With the 32nd edition of Winterlude just around the corner (February 5th - 21st), CHEO would like to remind all parents and children that helmets can prevent head injuries when skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Personnel from CHEO will be on the Rideau Canal Skateway during Winterlude to help promote helmet safety. Doctors and nurses are volunteering at the Skate Safe Tent and will be on hand to answer questions and help ensure that your child’s helmet fits properly. CHEO bear will also be present every Sunday, February 7th, 14th, and 21st from 11 am to 3 pm to encourage kids to wear their helmets and give them a big thumbs up for keeping safe.

Winter is a great season for outdoor activities, such as sledding, skating and skiing. Playing outside in the cold weather on ice and snow can be both fun and dangerous for children. Last year there were over 50 children were seen by CHEO’s emergency department with head and facial injuries caused by skating and sledding incidents. The majority of these children were not wearing helmets and 70 to 90 percent of all head injuries can be avoided by wearing a helmet.

So before your family heads to the Rideau Canal Skateway this year, make sure to consider the following helpful tips:

  • A proper fitting ski or hockey helmet will prevent head injuries when skating – not a bicycle helmet. Bicycle helmets are only tested up to -10ºC (14ºF) and need to be replaced after one crash. If you use a hockey helmet, make sure it is approved by the Canadian Standards Association.
  • A child’s head size changes a lot as they grow, so helmets need to be adjusted or replaced as needed. Don’t buy a large helmet for your kids to grow into. Helmets that are too big for your child’s head will not fit and will not properly protect your child.
  • Children under 10 (or those learning to skate) should also wear a facemask/cage. Of those kids treated by CHEO last year, approximately half of them fell forward and face planted, while the other half fell backward and received a concussion. You should protect against both.
  • Kids and adults skating on the Canal will have access to free rental helmets and wrist guards. Helmet and wrist guard rentals are available from Capital Skate Rentals located at the National Arts Centre and 5th Avenue where the skate rentals will be. You do not need to rent skates in order to rent a free helmet or wrist guards.
  • Free helmet rentals will also be available at the Skate Safe Tent for kids taking skating lessons. The Skate Safe Tent will be staffed by Ottawa Public Health and by volunteers from Ottawa ThinkFirst. The Skate Safe Tent will be open from 11 am to 3 pm.
  • If your child does not know how to skate or is not yet comfortable skating, you can sign them up for lessons. There will be free skating lessons on the Canal during Winterlude at the Skate Safe Tent between 12 pm and 3 pm located at the Concord St. access point across from Ottawa University.
  • Using wrist guards is also recommended for those learning to skate. Wrist guards can prevent sprains and breaks.
  • Check the Rideau Canal Skateway conditions before skating by calling 613-239-5234 or online

CHEO would like to wish all parents and children a safe and fun-filled Winterlude.

For more information about injury prevention:

Download our Fact Sheet on Helmet Safety (776 KB PDF file)
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