Safety Guide: Do’s & Don’ts On The Slope
Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most breathtaking sports ever invented. A ski holiday can take you miles away from real life and have you living in a dream world for a week. The inspirational mountain freedom and stunning scenery are hard to dislike. Whilst you should be returning from a ski trip full of enthusiasm and zest for life, some are not so lucky and have their trips ended early by injury. The fun of the sport is obvious but there are also inherent risks to personal safety and health. So be careful and take in this skiing and snowboarding ‘Do’s and Don’ts Safety Guide’ to help minimise the risk.
Prepare for your trip. Ski and snowboarding are physical activities so if you are not regular to exercise it is wise to get in shape.
Wear a helmet. No matter your ability, if you are a beginner and think you will not be travelling very fast there is always a risk from other skiers and heavy machinery on ski lifts.
Always stop towards the edge of the pistes, where you can be easily seen. At the top of a crest or ridge rather than underneath.
Be aware of piste signs and markers to make sure you are aware of upcoming hazards.
Know your own ability. Ski in control and stay aware of your surroundings. The most common injury source is a collision.
Use the correct equipment. Specialist ski gear will keep you warm and protected from the weather. Well-fitted boots and skis will help you stay comfortable and in control.
Get winter sports travel insurance. It is important to cover yourself for rescue and injury. Mountain rescue and medical treatment is expensive. Make sure you check your policy wording, many will not cover off piste, freestyle or competition.
Have ski lessons. It can be tempting to avoid the cost of lessons and work it out yourself or have a friend teach you. This won’t be good for your technique, could be dangerous and is illegal in many countries.
Do not endanger others.
Adjust ski bindings yourself. Always have a professional set your skis, there are important safety checks and calculations to take into account.
Ski alone. Always ski with a buddy, if you must ski alone do not venture away from other people who can help you in an emergency. Never go off-piste alone.
Venture into unknown off piste without a guide/expert. If you don’t know where you are going it will be dangerous. Avalanche danger is tricky to spot even for the experts.
Leave your resort without checking the last lift home. It could be a long cold night or an expensive taxi ride home if you miss the last lift.
Drink and ski. It can be tempting to a few too many beers up the mountain. Insurance will not be valid if you hurt yourself while intoxicated.
Ski without sun protection. The UV is strong at altitude and around the snow, so get your factor 50 out and put some sunglasses on.
Ski or walk across frozen lakes. You might fall through the ice. Yikes.
Some injuries are par for the course. You can never be completely safe, which is may be part of the sport’s attraction but there are ways to minimise risk. Use your common sense, wear correct equipment and if you are not sure, ask a member of resort staff. Emergencies are usually caused by stupidity and poor planning, you are on holiday so take your time. If you have to go the long way round or wait, then your end of day drink may taste a little better when you are in one piece.
Be realistic about your own abilities and ride at your own level.