It's Snow Time! - Being safe on the slopes

ACTIVITY

Most of us moan about the cold when the temperature starts to plummet and winter takes hold. But there are plenty of us who not only brave the frosty conditions, but revel in them, slipping and sliding down the slopes.

Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, while incredibly fun, can carry a risk of injury, sometimes serious ones. It is really important to understand the demands of the sports and the conditions and take the appropriate precautions to reduce your risk.

The most common causes of injury in winter sports are falls and collisions but thankfully, the risks can be greatly reduced with the right planning, preparation and equipment.

Being prepared for a trip to the snow will go a long way to reducing the risks of injury. Tips to make sure you’re as safe as possible include:

  • Having appropriate clothing — this includes thermal undergarments and thick winter jackets, especially for children as they  are more susceptible to cold, and protective gear such as a helmet, goggles, bright or reflective clothing and ear muffs.
  • Making sure your equipment is in good repair — the last thing you want is a ski or snowboard to break while going down the slope at high speed.
  • If you’re a beginner, ensure you have lessons from an experienced instructor.
  • This should boil down to using common sense but don’t drink alcohol before getting out on the slopes. While it’s believed alcoholic drinks warm you up, they actually narrow blood vessels, increasing your risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Keep abreast of the weather conditions before you head out and always avoid extreme weather conditions such as snowstorms. Remember too — always tell someone when and where you’re going and when you’re going to return.
  • Never go out alone. If possible go in a group or at the very least, a partner, who can help if you fall and check you for signs of hypothermia.
  • As with any sport, drink plenty of water before, during and after you participate and carry snacks such as energy bars to limit the risk of fatigue.
  • Know your limitations — Don’t challenge yourself too much too soon by trying a ski run that is beyond your skill and fitness — this is just asking for trouble.
  • Be on the look-out for obstacles or hazards, both natural like rocks or trees and man-made like snow equipment.
  • If you are lost, retrace your steps. If you can’t retrace your steps, seek shelter and wait for help.

 

You can find more information at on keeping safe at the snow at Snowsafe.