10 Top tips to stay safe on the slopes
Skiing is amazing fun, but definitely not without risks.
The International Ski Federation has produced rules on the slopes designed to make your holiday safer and in addition I have added in my top tips to make your holiday just that bit safer without taking away one jot of enjoyment:
The International Ski Federation’s FIS Rules of Conduct.
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 to stay safe on the slopes, and should be followed at all times. These Rules of Conduct 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.
10 FIS Rules of Conduct:
- Respect for other skiers and snowboarders
A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he or she does not endanger or prejudice others.
- Control of speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding
Every skier or snowboarder must move in control. He or she must adapt the speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather, as well as to the density of traffic.
- Choice of route
A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his or her route in such a way not to endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.
A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that enough space is left for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
- Entering, starting and moving upwards
When entering marked run: Skiers or snowboarders, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes, must look up and down the slopes before moving so as not to endanger themselves or others.
Unless absolutely necessary, skiers or snowboarders must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. If a fall should occur here, it is essential to move clear of the piste as soon as possible.
- Climbing and descending on foot
A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slopes.
- Respect for signs
Skiers and snowboarders must respect all signs and markings.
In the case of an accident, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.
Following any accident, every skier and snowboarder, whether a responsible party or witness, must exchange names and addresses.
Accidents are frequently seen on the piste – know how to help
- 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 post someone up the slope to warn people about the accident.
- Get help – Vitally important! 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.
First Aid following a collision
Danger – continually be aware of the surroundings and do not put yourself at risk
Response – Are the conscious? If so, check if they would like your help.
If no response –
- Airway – check it is clear
- Breathing – check for breathing if breathing, very carefully put them into the recovery position
If not breathing – start CPR
- Circulation – cover any wound and apply direct firm pressure to stop bleeding
- Do not reposition limbs you think could be broken.
- Keep the casualty safe and warm – give nothing to eat or drink, especially alcohol. Ideally have a foil blanket with you as part of your First Aid kit.
- Do not move unnecessarily if there is a risk of a spinal injury and do not remove the ski helmet.
- Alert the rescue services – the telephone number is normally on the piste map
- Place of accident (piste name and nearest piste marker)
- Number of people injured
- 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.
• Report to the police as soon as possible.
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.
Always be aware of your surroundings; people go very fast and although you may be in control, others may not.
Always adhere to the FIS rules of conduct and always look uphill before setting off.
Wear a helmet to protect your head, you and others will be going at speed and 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 if at all possible and often there is powdered snow beyond that which would be easier to navigate.
The weather at altitude can change incredibly fast, so always 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 have 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 considerably adds to the power of the sun and it is possible to burn quickly even on a cloudy day. Always cover all exposed areas with high factor suncream and ensure you have good quality sunglasses or goggles. Ensure you apply regular lip balm that contains a sunfactor.
If someone is sunburnt – once back at base run the area under tepid water and apply neat Aloe Vera.
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.
To learn more about First Aid for Skiing and snowboarders: please visit https://onlinefirstaid.com/our-courses/first-aid-for-skiing/
We have a superb online first aid training course to empower you with the confidence to help yourself and others with the skills to help if someone has an accident on the slopes.