Stay Safe on the Slopes

Skiing and snowboarding are popular winter recreation sports and with all the snow we’ve seen here in Colorado, and the surrounding area, the season is well underway. Whether you are a beginner looking to try out a few runs or a seasoned skier or snowboarder, safety should always be top of mind as injuries can happen to anyone.

Although bruises and broken bones are the most common injuries, according to the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of serious injury and the most common cause of death related to skiing and snowboarding accidents. Wearing proper gear, following basic safety rules, and always being cognizant of your surroundings can keep you safe.

Preparing to Hit the Slopes

Obtaining and wearing quality, well-fitted safety equipment and clothing can go a long way in helping you stay safe on the slopes. Whether renting or using your own, you should always ensure you have the following safety equipment:

  • Helmet specifically designed for skiing/snowboarding
  • Eye Protection, including sunglasses and goggles
  • Properly fitted boots and well-adjusted bindings
  • Wrist Guards (optional)

According to the National Ski Areas Association, when it comes to clothing, you should dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes within your body and around you. You should also bring a headband or hat and gloves to keep these sensitive areas warm and prevent your body from releasing too much heat. For your outer layers, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant and has flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs and the wrists and ankle, collars that can be pulled up to the chin, and drawstrings that can be adjusted. Lastly, always be sure to wear sunscreen. Even on a cold, cloudy day you could get a sunburn due to the reflection of the sun off the snow.

Safety Tips

Skiing and snowboarding are physically and mentally demanding sports. You should follow a regular exercise routine to keep yourself in shape even outside of the season to reduce fatigue and injury on the slopes. Also, ensure that you keep your mind focused by avoiding alcohol or drug consumption. The following safety tips can help keep skiers and snowboarders safe all season long:

  • Beginners should invest in instruction, including learning how to fall and get back up; experienced skiers should take a refresher course
  • Know the weather conditions before heading to the slopes; time of day can also affect visibility and make obstacles difficult to see
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Always stay in control and be aware of your technique, the terrain, and others around you
  • Know your limits
  • Stop before you become fatigued
  • If you find yourself on a run that exceeds your ability level, leave your equipment on and side step down the slope
  • Stop in a safe place for you and others; stop on the side of a run, not in the middle
  • Look both ways and uphill before crossing a trail, merging or starting down a hill
  • Give skiers in front of you the right of way; they most likely can’t see you
  • Never ski on closed runs or out of boundaries because these areas are not monitored and there is no way to know what the snow conditions are; a rogue skier could even cause an avalanche
  • Use devices, such as leashes to help prevent runaway equipment
  • Know how to use the lifts safely