How To Stay Safe on the Ski Slopes
Top tips to enjoy a happy and healthy holiday on the slopes
Skiing offers many health benefits. However, it also carries the risk of accident or injury. Read our guide to staying safe on the slopes this winter.
When it comes to the winter months, thousands of people head to ski resorts to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful scenery and the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing. However, the combination of crowds, strenuous exercise, cold temperatures, slippery surfaces and, in some cases, inexperience can lead to accidents or injuries. Follow our guide to make sure you stay safe on your next skiing holiday.
Know the Rules
In order to help avoid accidents on the piste, the International Ski Federation has established a set of rules governing the conduct of skiers and snowboarders. These include, giving priority to the skier ahead of you and adapting your style of skiing to suit the conditions and your ability. The rules are legally binding so make sure you familiarise yourself with them before you travel.
Around 10% of injuries on the mountain arise from collisions with other skiers. The easiest way to avoid collisions and accidents is to always be aware of your surroundings. Glance around as you ski and always check uphill for oncoming skiers before you set off.
It might sound obvious, but avoid mixing skiing with alcohol. A few drinks at a mountain-top restaurant over lunch, or even a hangover from the night before can all impede your judgement and reactions, increasing your likelihood of an accident.
It also pays to watch your speed. It can be easy to get carried away, but the biggest cause of accidents on the slopes is out of control skiing – so make sure you ski at a speed where you are still in control and can stop or change course for any unforeseen obstacles.
Choose the Right Clothing
Choosing the right clothes can help protect you from the low temperatures on the slopes. Layers are key as these allow you to remove or add layers as your temperature fluctuates, as well as helping to keep moisture away from your skin. Generally speaking, your bottom layer should be a material that wicks moisture away from your skin. This should be followed by an insulating layer and then by an outer shell in a breathable material. Lastly, don’t forget a pair of gloves or mittens to protect your hands from the elements.
As well as protecting yourself from the cold, you also need to protect yourself from the sun. You can still burn, despite the cold temperatures. Cover up with long sleeves and trousers, make sure your ears are covered and use good quality sunglasses or goggles to block the glare of the sun on snow. Protect any exposed skin with a layer of sunblock.
Wear a Helmet
Around one in six skiing and snowboarding injuries are head injuries, so wearing a helmet is a really important safety precaution. Many people remain resistant to the idea of wearing a helmet whilst skiing. However, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a serious brain injury is the leading cause of death from sports-related injuries – so in the case of a serious collision, wearing a helmet could literally prove the difference between life and death.
Preparation is Key
Too many people make the mistake of looking at their skiing trip as just any other holiday. In fact, skiing holidays involve long periods of strenuous exercise and if you fail to prepare properly you could leave yourself open to injury or accident. Experts recommend starting a training programme around 12 weeks before you travel, which concentrates on building up your stamina, fitness and muscle strength. Exercises such as split squats, lunges, step-ups, cycling and swimming can all help to get your body ready for a week on the slopes.
When carried out sensibly and safely, skiing offers many benefits to both your physical health and mental well-being. By following the above tips and exercising common sense you can enjoy a healthy and happy holiday on the slopes.