Safety on the Slopes

Whether you and your kids prefer skis or a snowboard, keep safety in mind when you hit the slopes.

By FamilyTime


For those who enjoy winter sports, nothing is more enticing than a bright, sunny day and fresh powder. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are increasingly popular sports that the whole family can enjoy. As glorious as a day on the mountain is, it pays to be be careful because either activity can result in injuries.

Start with Good Equipment
Take time when renting or buying equipment. Make sure boots fit and bindings are secure and will release readily and properly.

When you upgrade equipment, take a lesson before using it. This enables you to get a feel for it before you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

If you are skiing on extreme trails, snowboarding, or just learning how to ski, wear a helmet. Most folks do these days. And of course, children should always wear helmets on the slopes.

Dress Correctly

Wear gloves or mittens – mittens are better for keeping hands warm and those designed for outdoor sport are best. Layer clothing. Begin with an inner layer that absorbs moisture, next wear an insulating layer, and finally an outer shell. Keep outer clothing lightweight and remove and replace it as the weather dictates.

Wear eye protection – sunglasses or goggles – and sunscreen on your face and neck. Don't forget to protect your lips. The sun glare off the snow is strong.

Ski and Snowboard Responsibly
Regardless of the country, skiers and boarders are expected to respect certain behavioral codes. These include:

  • Stay in control at all times.
  • Give those in front of you the right of way.
  • Never obstruct a trail.
  • Yield to those uphill of you when you start downhill.
  • Use devices to prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe posted signs and warnings.
  • Know how to use the lifts – and ask for help if you don't.

Take Lessons
Beginners should always take lessons. Even a few hours at the start of a ski vacation help a lot.

Anyone who hasn't skied for a few years or who is trying snowboarding for the first time should consider lessons.

Ski instructors do more than work on technique. They go over safety issues, teach you how to fall correctly, and explain how the equipment works. They also familiarize beginners with ski lifts and the trail markings.

Respect Mother Nature
Winter weather can change without warning. Well groomed trails can develop icy patches from one run to the next. It can start snowing or blowing unexpectedly. If the weather gets bad, head for the lodge.

Obey all advisory signs. Never ski off the trail or cross creeks except at designated bridges. If your favorite trail is closed, don’t attempt it.

The Last Run
Remember the warning about the last run of the day. This is when you will be most fatigued and when most accidents happen. Know when you are tired and stop skiing. Taking off those boots feels so good!