With winter comes an abundance of snow and fun on the slopes. It’s meant to be a good time and can be if everyone is mindful of safety. However, there is a risk of serious injury or death if an individual does not take proper safety precautions.
Every skier or snowboarder has a responsibility code to themselves and others. This code is created by the National Ski Areas Association. Failing to live up to this responsibility code could lead to injuries or death to oneself or others. If someone loses their life due to gross negligence of an entity or a person, a wrongful death lawsuit could be brought against them.
There are several ways that you can stay safe on the slopes this winter. They include the following:
The force behind a collision on the slope can be extreme and could cause minor to severe injuries. NSAA’s Responsibility Code states that you should be in control of your snowboard or skis and be able to stop or avoid people or objects.
People ahead of you, or downhill, have the right of way. Before you merge into another trail or start down a hill, look up toward to mountain to make sure no one is coming your way. Others may be looking down the hill, but if you pop up out of nowhere, they may not have time to avoid you.
If you need to stop and take a rest break, do not stop in the middle of a trail or in a spot where you can’t be seen from above. Move over to the side or further down.
Wearing a Helmet
Wearing a helmet is crucial on the slopes even if it might not be ‘cool’ to some. Your life is more important than your social status among peers.
Hitting your head due to a crash or fall could cause a traumatic brain injury and could cost you your life. Helmets are proven to reduce the risk of snowboard and ski-related head injuries by 60%.
Ensure that your helmet fits certification guidelines. Certified safety standards will ensure helmets have been approved for shock-absorbing capacity, resistance to penetration, and durability. If your helmet has developed a crack or sustained some damage from a previous crash, replace it before hitting the slopes again. The integrity of the helmet is no longer intact.
Ensure that your boots fit and bindings are adjusted properly. This will enable you to have as much control as possible.
For snowboarding, ensure your leash is attached to your ankle. It’s part of your duty to ensure you don’t have runaway equipment. If you are walking while holding your board and you accidentally fall and lose control of the board, the leash will prevent it from catapulting down the mountain and accidentally colliding with someone.
Choose goggles that give you as wide of vision as possible to ensure you can see everything around you. This will help keep snow out of your eyes as well as protect you from the glare of the sun. Ensure that your goggles fit with your helmet. Some goggles do have the option for interchangeable lenses. So if you decide to ride at night, you can switch them out for a clear lens.
It’s important to dress for the weather. Temperatures can plummet as it gets darker and a safer rule is to layer up.
Bright clothing that can easily be seen increases your visibility not only to others around you while going down the mountain, but also from the air if you happen to accidentally get lost and a search has started. While white clothing can be nice, sometimes it can blend it with the snow too much, making it easier to people to miss seeing you.
If you decide to ski on an unmarked trail in the backcountry, take a course with an instructor to learn the proper techniques for each snow condition, what gear to take, what to do if something goes wrong, and how to ‘read’ the mountain.
Keep in mind the dangers of going on unmarked trails including getting lost, avalanches, and potentially succumbing to crevasses on glaciers. Nature isn’t a force to be reckoned with and can take your life.
If possible, always go with at least one other person. When going down the slopes try to keep them in your view as much as possible. If you do lose them, call out to each other until you can find each other again. If the other person goes missing, be sure to contact safety patrol as soon as possible with the details of where the other person was last seen.
Take A Lesson
If you are new to skiing or snowboarding, take a lesson. You will learn the basics of your equipment and how to maneuver, as well as how to safely stop and fall. Being unable to stop safely could mean running into others on the slope or crashing into an object such as signs or trees. Not knowing how to safely fall could result in broken wrists, arms, or injuries to other body parts.
Winter slopes offer exhilarating fun, but safety is paramount to avoid serious injuries or death. Skiers and snowboarders must follow the National Ski Areas Association’s responsibility code, as failure to do so could lead to legal consequences. Stay safe on the slopes this winter.