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Safe Skiing and Snowboarding

Here are our tips for keeping you and your family safe on the slopes.

Skiing with children

There's a fine art to making skiing with children successful, and preparation is one of the key factors.

Before travelling

Pack carefully, when you pack for the holiday be sure to include:

  • Any current medications the family are taking.
  • Plenty of pain-relieving treatments such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen - because there will be inevitable aches and pains.
  • Arnica cream - just the thing for bruised aching limbs.
  • A stretchy bandage and plenty of plasters for blistered feet.
  • Favourite toys and comforters.
  • Children under 4 years who will be attending nurseries will need to have proof of up to date vaccinations (letter from their doctor) in order to be accepted.

Once in resort

Prepare for the snow each morning:

  • Ensure you eat breakfast, packed with carbohydrates (such as breakfast cereal) to provide energy both for skiing and keeping warm.
  • Wear plenty of warm waterproof clothing and comfortable boots. Temperatures can fall fast on the mountain and children often fail to anticipate how cold they can get. Several thin layers are best. A one-piece ski suit is the most convenient but at least with a two piece the child can wear the jacket at other times. Hats are essential - more heat is lost through the head than any other body part. Decent gloves are also vital. A proper ski helmet and goggles are needed to protect eyes and head (we recommend children under 13 wear a helmet). Remember that goggles should be big enough to fit over the helmet. Remember warm kids are happy kids - and you will be happier too!
  • Cover exposed skin with sunscreen factor 30-plus. Be sure to take lip balm and extra sunscreen with you on the slopes, as these will need to be reapplied during the day.

Avoiding injuries

Injuries on the ski slopes are directly related to age, ability, conditions and equipment, as well as tiredness. Ensure:

  • Your children's ski equipment is suitable for them and their ability: make sure the bindings on their skis are adjusted by a qualified technician for easy release. Many serious accidents among children are a result of bindings, which don't release when the child falls.
  • Lessons are from qualified instructors.
  • Take adverse weather reports seriously.
  • When they say they've had enough, stop and don't over estimate your children's ability.

The Skiers Code

The FIS (International Ski Federation) has established ten rules for the conduct of skiers and snowboarders. They are to ensure safety on the slopes and are governed by law and apply to both skiers and snowboarders. In short, they are:

  1. Respect Do not endanger others
  2. Control Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and to the general conditions on the mountain
  3. Choice of route The skier/snowboarder in front has priority - leave enough space
  4. Overtaking Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder
  5. Entering and starting Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run
  6. Stopping Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can easily be seen
  7. Climbing When climbing up or down, always keep to the side of the piste
  8. Signs Obey all signs and markings - they are there for your safety
  9. Assistance In case of accidents provide help and alert the rescue service
  10. Identification All those involved in an accident, including witnesses, should exchange names and addresses

Important guidelines for skiers and snowboarders

  • You ski/board at your own risk
  • Pay attention to all signs and markers
  • Please ski/board on marked runs - these are protected from unexpected alpine dangers
  • The areas outside the marked runs are called 'Hors Piste'; they are not patrolled or groomed
  • Watch out for piste preparation machines
  • Respect nature - take care not to ski in areas where young trees or wildlife will be disturbed and don't drop litter
  • Consider taking lessons on a dry slope, and fitness sessions before going on holiday

The above guidelines apply to all users of the marked pistes.

Skiing or snowboarding off-piste

  • Outside the marked pistes and itineraries are areas, which are NOT protected from alpine dangers
  • Signs around the ski area 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

Alcohol and altitude don't mix!

Alcohol can affect you more quickly at high altitudes and seriously limits your awareness of danger and cold. Heavy drinking is often a key factor in many consular cases linked to skiing and snowboarding. As well as putting yourself and others at risk, if you are involved in an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol your insurance cover may be invalid. As a result, you may have to pay thousands in medical expenses if you are injured.

Dr Laurence Bristow-Smith, British Consul General in Milan, said: “We’ve provided support in a couple of consular cases where fatal accidents in the mountains were a direct result of drinking too much alcohol. In one case the insurance company refused to pay out as the policy holder ‘had put himself in unnecessary danger and was under the influence of alcohol.’ This meant that repatriation costs, amounting to thousands of Euros, had to be met by the family.

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