How to Ski and Snowboard Safely (4 of 6)

Written by Nick

This week’s Winter Sports blog looks at safety and what you can do to avoid accidents and any unfavourable situations whilst on the slopes. If you’re a newbie to the piste or want to brush up on your ski etiquette, don’t forget to check out last week’s post on what to do before you hit the ski slopes.

Keep cool in unfavourable situations, be safe and have fun!

Keep cool in unfavourable situations, be safe and have fun!

From those little niggles to some of the more serious scenarios, here are some more top tips to help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable winter holiday.

1. Prevention is better than cure!

Ski within your means and be aware of other slope users to avoid a painful accident.

2. Skiing can be tiring so take time out

Tiredness and Fatigue are one of the main catalysts of accidents. Don’t wait until you feel tired, take regular rests and grab a bite to eat

Take a break

Skiing can be a tiring business. Make sure you grab a break now and then

When you’re on the slopes it’s not always obvious when energy levels start to drop. Skiing and snowboarding is an exhausting activity, ensure that you have regular stops to top up on fluids and some sort of energy snack to see you safely through the day.

3. Respect other slope users

You may be on holiday, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your manners at home! Simple as it may sound, ski slopes can be busy places with fast and slow moving traffic. Basically, treat it like a motorway and don’t do silly things that are likely to endanger others.

Treat a Ski slope as you would a Motorway

Treat a Ski slope as you would a Motorway

  • Ski within your ability. Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and to the general conditions on the mountain. Not doing so is one of the quickest ways to an accident and injury.
  • Skiers and snowboarders in front have priority. Make sure you leave enough space.
  • Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder. If they suddenly turn or stop, you’ll still have space to manoeuvre.
  • If merging into a marked run, treat it like a road. Look up and down the mountain before entering to get an idea of what’s happening around you.
  • If you need to stop, stop at piste’s edge. You’re less likely to be in the way and more likely to be avoided by other skiers and snowboarders.
  • Take note of piste signs and markers. Like any road network, pistes have signs and markings that should be obeyed. They are there for your safety and the safety of other people on the slope.

4. Tips for Skiing or Snowboarding off-piste

Off-piste areas are NOT protected from alpine dangers, so extra care must be taken!

Be mindful of avalanche warnings when skiing off-piste

Be mindful of avalanche warnings when skiing off-piste

  • Check that your insurance covers off-piste activities
  • Look for signs around the ski area which will warn you when avalanche danger is present.
  • Even when there is no warning of avalanches, there could be local snow slides.
  • Unless you know an area well, only ski/board off-piste with a guide (in the USA, skiing/boarding “out of bounds” without a guide can lead to confiscation of your lift pass).
  • If in doubt, stay away and stick to the main piste slopes.

5. What to do if there is an accident

The recognised sign for a piste accident is a pair of crossed skis or a snowboard planted in the snow at least 5 metres above the accident area. If necessary, post someone up the hill to give warning to others and prevent anyone from colliding and causing more damage.

Do you know you're first aid?

Would you know how to administer first aid, like these guys?

A little bit of First Aid goes a long way
This is where a St John’s First Aid course would come in handy. If the accident is of a more serious nature use these rules to aid the injured:

  • Circulation – check for a pulse
  • Check that the person’s airway is clear and they are breathing
  • Assess the general condition of the casualty
  • Do not move them if the injury is obviously back, neck or head-related
  • Try to stop any serious bleeding by covering the wound and applying firm pressure
  • Provide warmth, but give nothing to eat or drink, especially alcohol
  • Do not offer painkillers if you have them

If required, contact the rescue services A.S.A.P
In the event of a more serious accident it’s important to stay calm and contact the rescue services giving clear details of:

  • Place of accident (piste name and nearest piste marker)
  • Number of people injured
  • Type of injury

Ultimately, the safety and well-being of the injured person is your priority, but if you’re able to collect these additional pieces of information it will help if there is police involvement:

  • Names and addresses of people involved and of witnesses
  • Place, time and circumstances of accident
  • Terrain, snow conditions and visibility
  • Markings and signs

By following these few simple rules, you’ll hopefully stay safe on the slopes, and if you do come across an accident, you should be able to offer some help.

6. Get the right level of Travel Insurance cover

Accidents do happen. Don’t get caught out with expensive medical bills, make sure your travel insurance caters for your Winter Sports activities.

Be prepared, don't get lumbered with hospital charges.

Be prepared, don't get lumbered with hospital charges

We’ve said it before, but we’re going to say it again. Getting adequate winter sports travel insurance is probably the single most important thing to have in place. For little more than the cost of a nice meal, good insurance cover will not only help with inconvenient issues like stolen or broken equipment; it could also be a life-saver, ensuring that you get prompt and adequate medical treatment without delay, if needed.

Next week…

Join us for the penultimate post in this series where we’ll be looking at apres-ski activities around the resort and sharing some fun pastimes that will provide fun for kids, couples, groups and families.

See you next week (...we couldn't resist the cute picture!)

See you next week!

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