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Advocates hit the slopes to promote safety

"You probably won't need a helmet today.

"You probably won't need a helmet today."

Those were the words adorning the jackets and snowboards of representatives from the Community Against Preventable Injuries who headed up the North Shore mountains the last two weekends of February to help prevent head and neck injuries during the ski season. The Preventable team made the rounds at Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mt. Seymour, asking fellow skiers and boarders to "Have a word with ourselves" and put on a helmet before hitting the slopes.

Preventable is a nation-wide multi-partner organization that aims to raise awareness of preventable injuries, and to get people thinking about the attitudes and actions that directly lead to those injuries.

Up the local ski hills, the team encouraged people to Tweet or Instagram a photo of themselves wearing a helmet for a chance to win $50. They also handed out safety pamphlets and coupons for $40 off helmets.

"Head and neck trauma is the leading cause of death among skiers and snowboarders," stated Preventable spokesperson Dr. Ian Pike in a press release from the organization. "This campaign encourages riders to stop and think about their attitudes and behaviours and educates them about some of the staggering statistics linked to helmet safety."

According to data provided by Preventable, helmets have been linked to a 35 per cent reduction in head injuries for skiers and snowboarders and reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury by as much as 60 per cent.

In 2013, B.C. Children's Hospital had about 51 visits to its emergency department because of snowboarding injuries, and 82 visits related to skiing for those aged 17 and under.

Among all ages in B.C., there are more than 700 skiing and snowboarding injuries that require hospitalization annually, according to the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit.

Preventable collaborated with the Insurance Bureau of Canada on its "Have a word with yourself" campaign.