Healthagen, LLC

8 Ways to Stay Safe on the Slopes

Blog post   •   Feb 03, 2011 13:18 EST

It’s snow time for most of the country, and for skiers and snowboarders, the sunny skies and fresh, powder topped mountains beckon.  Unfortunately, nothing ruins a great ski trip as much as an accident that didn’t have to happen. Following these tips will help everyone stay safe on the slopes.

1. Ski at your level – To avoid falls, sprains, and broken bones, always stay in control and know how to stop at any time. Consider taking a lesson if you’ve never skied before, and if skiing with young kids, look for slow skiing zones that are gentle slopes specifically designated for slow family skiing.

2. Dress appropriately – Wear layers followed by a waterproof jacket, pants, gloves and a hat that covers the ears.  Be able to recognize signs of frostbite which can affect the fingers, toes and face, as well as hypothermia, which can cause shivering and confusion, and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

3. Make sure the gear fits – Skis, boards and boots should fit according to height, weight and skill level. Helmets are recommended and often required for kids ages 12 and under. Opt for goggles instead of sunglasses because they’ll stay on and cover more of the face.

4. Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid alcohol, at least until you’re back in the lodge. Combining altitude, sunshine and physical exertion means you’ll have to drink more water than usual.

5. Apply sunscreen – Even though it’s cold outside, the sun is always more intense at higher elevations. Apply sunscreen and lip balm throughout the day.

6. Avoid altitude sickness – The flu like symptoms brought on by altitude sickness affect both kids and adults, but can be minimized by following a few guidelines. A few days before hitting the slopes, drink extra water and limit soda and extra salty foods that can lead to dehydration.  Pack lots of healthy “high energy” snacks like dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and cheese cubes for quick energy breaks.

7. Use the Buddy System – Colorado Ski Country USA, the non-profit trade organization for Colorado ski resorts, advises skiers and boarders of all levels to stay in pairs or a group.  Since cell phone service isn’t always available on the mountain, have a designated meeting place in case you get separated.

8. Know The Code – The National Skiers Association established “Your Responsibility Code” in 1966 to reflect skier, snowboarder and lift safety.  While many ski resorts have designated ski safety patrol, it’s ultimately the responsibility of skiers and snowboarder to know the code and their own abilities.

  • Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid objects.
  • Safety on the slopes is everyone’s responsibility.
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • Do not stop where you obstruct the trail or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings.
  • Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must know how to load, ride, and unload safely.

Most mishaps on the slopes are minor, but if you experience a serious injury like a possible concussion or fracture, seek medical attention as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis. To search symptoms, diseases and find providers or facilities wherever you are, download the free iTriage app or visit