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3/2/2011
CHEO Promotes Helmet Awareness During Winterlude

OTTAWA– With the 33rd edition of Winterlude just around the corner (February 4th starting at 7 p.m. – Feb 21st), CHEO would like to remind all parents and children that helmets can prevent head injuries when skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway.

Winter is a great season for outdoor activities, such as sledding, skating and skiing. It’s great fun to stay active by playing outsideon ice and snow. But head injuries are no fun at all. Each year, over 50 children visited CHEO’s emergency department for head and facial injuries caused by skating and sledding. Most of these children were not wearing helmets. Researchers estimate that between 70 to 90 percent of all head injuries could be prevented with 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 – but a bicycle helmet won’t. 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.. Of those kids treated by CHEO last year, almost half fell forward onto their faces. The other half fell backward, hitting their heads hard on the ice.  You should protect against both.
  • Using wrist guards is also a good idea, especially for children and adults just learning to skate. Wrist guards can prevent sprains and breaks.

Kids and adults skating on the Canal will be able to borrow helmets and wrist guards for free with the rental of a pair of skates. Capital Skate Rentals at the Mackenzie King Bridge and 5th Avenue are offering this service. A deposit is required if just borrowing helmets and/or wrist guards.Adult and child skates can also be rented at Dows Lake, provided by Dows Lake Pavillion

The Skate Safe Tent will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. On Saturdays during Winterlude, visitors can visit the Skate Safe tent for important information about safety on the ice, and the importance of helmets and other protection. On Sundays until 3 pm, visitors and residents can join the Skate Safe team, with helmet information sessions starting at 11 a.m., and free skating tips for children and adults starting at noon.

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 SUBWAY Learn to Skate sessions on the Canal during Winterlude at 5th Avenue,  between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Check the Rideau Canal Skateway conditions before skating by calling 613-239-5234 or online at canadascapital.gc.ca/skateway

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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