Ski Travel Insurance has put together a snow safety guide, which contains important basic ski and snowboarding safety information for your education. Dangers exists in every type of skiing and snowboarding be it learning, freestyling, freeriding off piste, or just plain on-piste cruising. While the risks all vary according to where, what, when and how you are skiing or snowboarding, take some time out to get savvy. Be aware – that way you’ll be on the snow more and hurting less! Remember also that reading is informative, but it is no substitute for proper training and experience.
Basic Safety Information
As a general rule, you ski or snowboard at your own risk. Learn to ski or snowboard by getting proper, qualified instruction. Consider wearing a helmet. It is mandatory in certain competition disciplines and for children at most resorts. Always check your equipment before you go out and make sure it’s all in good order. Check all available weather and avalanche reports in resort before going up the mountain. Leashes are mandatory in some resorts for snowboarders – always make sure you have one available.
Pay attention to all signs and markers and obey all directives – they are for your safety. Be careful on all the lift systems – many accidents happen here especially when getting off. Watch out for piste machines – they hurt! It is essential to look carefully to right and left when changing direction. Inexperienced skiers or snowboarders should only ski/snowboard on marked runs. These are protected from alpine dangers (e.g. avalanches and unexpected precipices). Areas outside the marked pistes and itineraries are not protected from alpine hazards. The areas outside the marked runs are not normally patrolled or groomed. If you are wishing to go off-piste you should get suitable training.
Hiring a trained professional guide is the safest way to ski/snowboard off-piste until you have gained the right level of experience. They’ll save you time and take you to the best spots. Go as a group and you’ll save money. Never ski/snowboard off-piste alone. Peer pressure can be dangerous. If you’re not sure, or uncomfortable, don’t do it! Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you’re likely to be back.
Take a mobile phone with you and enter the local emergency numbers. It may just help you avert a disaster! Please note however that currently there are substantial concerns about electronic items interfering with avalanche transceivers and therefore the ability to locate an avalanche victim quickly and successfully. It is currently recommended that mobile phones are switched off and only used when necessary when skiing/ snowboarding backcountry as recent research has shown them to interfere with both analogue and digital transceivers.
Respect nature – take care not to ski or snowboard in areas where young trees will be damaged or wildlife disturbed. Don’t shout and holler at 3am down the middle of the street except under exceptional circumstances. Don’t drop litter and leave everything as found. The mountains are not a personal landfill site and should be treated with the care and respect they deserve.
Basic First Aid
This guide contains general advice for skiers and snowboarders on basic first aid procedures which can be used in an emergency. It is not, however, a substitute for formal or professional training. Assess the general condition of the casualty and seek expert help.
Remember the ABCs of first aid:
- Airway – check it is clear
- Breathing – check for breathing
- Circulation – check for pulse
- Cover any wound and apply firm pressure
- Provide warmth
- Give nothing to eat or drink – especially alcohol
Contact the Authorities Stay Alert
Contact the rescue service immediately and give them the following details.
- Location and/or piste name (nearest piste marker).
- Number of people injured and type of injury.
- Establish the facts of the accident, names and addresses of people involved and of witnesses.
- Note the place, time and circumstances of the accident, terrain, snow conditions and visibility.
- Take photographs if possible.
- Remember markings and signs.
- Report to the piste patrol as soon as possible.