Staying safe on the slopes is absolutely essential. Almost 2% of skiers come home on crutches, and serious injuries are more common than you might expect.
Follow a basic guide to ski safety, and stay safe when you’re out on the slopes:
1. Pack the right equipment
Make sure you have layered clothing. This will keep you warm, but allow you to control and adjust your temperature. You’ll want moisture-wicking fabrics, and will also need ski goggles and a suitable helmet. Head injuries aren’t uncommon, and the right safety equipment is absolutely essential.
Also carry a multi-tool, for on-the-go repairs and adjustments. If something breaks on the slopes, it’s a long hike back to the top!
2. Carry ID and emergency contact information
Wherever you are, make sure that you’re carrying emergency identification. This should include someone else’s contact details – a friend or family member back home – as well as vital information like your own name and date of birth.
Make your own emergency contact card, or get a wristband with details engraved.
3. Know your limits
Know your limits, and only push them slightly. Pushing your limits helps you to grow, but too much is a safety risk. Don’t lie about your abilities, or try to do more than you know you’ll be able to achieve.
4. Stay in sight
Many people go off-piste, straying from all approved routes. This is a big risk, and you’ll be much safer if you stay on recommended paths. If you’re planning to stray from the busiest locations, try to take someone with you. Always make sure that people know roughly where you’re going, to help find you in an emergency.
5. Look up
Before setting off, always take time to look up at the slope above you. There’s a good chance that someone is speeding down from higher up, and that your launch will get in their way. Look ahead of you to make sure that you don’t crash, but also look back to avoid being someone else’s hazard.
6. Use a ski lift responsibly
A ski lift is very rarely a fully enclosed cable car. Often, you’ll be high above the ground sitting on a fairly narrow bench. It’s important to be responsible and safe, to avoid any risk of falling.
Make sure that you know how to use a ski lift, and the difference between a chair lift and a button lift as well as techniques for using both.
7. Know your route signs
Learn the different colours and shapes that indicate ski slope difficulty. Beginners should stick to green slopes, moving on to blue with a little more experience. Red slopes are for intermediate skiers, whilst yellow and black should only be attempted by the most confident people.
By being prepared and following the rules, you can enjoy the thrill of skiing down the mountainside. Basic ski safety requires the right equipment, and a beginner’s understanding of reading signs and using a ski lift properly. Respect the slopes, and your own ability, for skiing that’s as risk-free as possible.