Skiing is amazing fun and makes for a fabulous family holiday, but the adrenaline buzz is not without risks! Here are some tips to make your holiday just that bit safer, to help everyone remain warm and healthy and get the maximum from their time on the slopes.
First Aid Following an Accident
- Danger – be aware of the surroundings and do not put yourself at risk.
- Check it is safe before crossing to help
- Secure the accident area
- Protect with crossed skis or planted snowboard above the injured person.
- If necessary, position someone prominently at the top of the slope to warn people about the accident
- Get help, emergency numbers are printed on most piste maps or at ski schools and you can note them down when buying your lift pass. Always start the day with a fully charged phone.
- Response – are they conscious? If so, check if they need your help.
If there is no response
- Airway – check it is clear.
- Breathing – check for breathing.
If they are breathing, very carefully put them in the recovery position.
If they are not breathing, start CPR.
- Circulation – cover any wounds and apply direct firm pressure to stop them bleeding. Hypothermia makes it more difficult for blood to clot, conserve their body heat and insulate them from the cold.
- Ideally have a foil blanket with you as part of your first aid kit.
- Do not reposition limbs you think could be broken, unless there is immediate concern about the circulation to the lower part of the limb.
- Keep the casualty safe and warm.
- Do not give them anything to eat or drink, especially alcohol. Do not move them (unless it is absolutely necessary) if there is any risk of a spinal injury and do not remove their ski helmet.
Alert the rescue services
The telephone number is normally on the piste map.
Let the rescue services know:
• the location of the accident (piste name and nearest piste marker)
• the number of people injured
• the type of injury
Establish the facts of a serious accident
• Names and addresses of people involved as well as witnesses.
• Place, time and circumstances of accident.
• Terrain, snow conditions and visibility.
• Markings and signs.
Ski to your level of competence – do not be tempted to go at a faster pace than you are comfortable with and moderate your speed according to visibility and the quality of the snow. Always ski at a pace when you are in control.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) has developed ‘Rules of Conduct’ that apply to all who use the pistes, regardless of what equipment they’re using. This ‘highway code’ for the snow helps everyone stay safe on the slopes, and should be followed at all times. These Rules are posted outside ski schools, by ski lifts and often printed on the back of piste maps. They should be read by everyone before venturing onto the slopes.
Be aware of your surroundings. People go very fast and although you may be in control, others may not!
Always look uphill before setting off.
Wear a helmet to protect your head, you and others will be going at speed, it can also protect you from ski poles, skis and banging your head at the lifts.
Bindings and Boots
Ensure you give accurate information on your age, ability, height and weight as these are critical to calculate the right settings for the bindings of your skis.
Incorrectly adjusted ski bindings account for most leg and knee injuries. If your bindings are too tight and you fall, your skis will not detach and this can result in very serious injuries. Conversely if your bindings are too loose your skis may fall off, which can also cause injury.
Ensure your boots are comfortable and fit well. Do not do them up too tight and if you find that your feet get very cold or lose sensation, this could be the cause.
Ice is slippery and trying to turn on black ice is frightening and can lead to accidents. Avoid turning on ice when possible, often there is powdered snow beyond it which is much easier to navigate.
The weather at altitude can change incredibly fast, so dress for all eventualities. Layers are always best and the general advice is to choose all synthetic or all natural. Ideally do not mix layers of wool with layers of synthetic fabrics as they work in different ways to keep you warm.
Good gloves and socks are essential.
Weather warnings are often posted at ski lifts.
Dehydration and Exhaustion
Skiing is a strenuous activity and it is vital that you keep yourself hydrated and do not overdo it. Take regular breaks and sips of water whenever you can. Take easy-to-eat snacks to munch on the lifts to keep your energy levels up. If you are skiing to another resort, ensure that you have planned the route sufficiently and allowed enough time to get back before the lifts close.
Watch out for unnaturally white patches of skin on the faces of your companions or on your hand as these can be the early signs of frostbite.
Take regular breaks and thaw frozen flesh with body heat and massage. Never put frostbitten hands or feet in hot water or on radiators.
Ice and snow add considerably to the power of the sun and it is possible to burn quickly even on a cloudy day. Cover all exposed areas with a high factor sun cream and ensure you have good quality sunglasses or goggles. Ensure you apply regular lip balm that contains sun protection.
If someone gets sunburnt, once you get back to base run the area under tepid water and apply neat Aloe Vera.
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Visit www.firstaidforlife.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses. First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.