National winter safety experts say the chances of head injuries diminish dramatically with helmet use. Many skiers and riders want to wear a helmet, but some just can't afford the cost.

Intermountain Healthcare, a system of 23 hospitals in Utah and Idaho, remedied that problem in its region Feb. 19 by giving away nearly 200 helmets at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

"We're pretty committed to injury-prevention programs and we feel like skiing, snowboarding and sledding injuries are a problem," Bill Duehlmeier, a nurse practitioner in Intermountain Medical Center's trauma program, told the Salt Lake Tribune. "When it comes to head injuries, they are mostly preventable."

The nonprofit health system company also gave away free lift tickets during the event at the Snowbird Plaza base area.

Intermountain spokespersons said that the effort follows along with the commitment by the National Ski Areas Association to increase the use of helmets on America's slopes and trails, including a goal to every child wearing a helmet by the 2012-2013 season.

The national ski and snowboard resort organization tracks proposals in state legislatures that would require helmets at all times. As of yet, no states have enacted such laws, although a number of ski and snowboard school programs across the country require that helmets be worn during on-hill instruction.

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