Safe Skiing and Snowboarding
Here are our tips for keeping you and your family safe on the slopes.
Skiing with children
There's a fine art to making skiing with children successful, and preparation is one of the key factors.
Pack carefully, when you pack for the holiday be sure to include:
- Any current medications the family are taking.
- Plenty of pain-relieving treatments such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen - because there will be inevitable aches and pains.
- Arnica cream - just the thing for bruised aching limbs.
- A stretchy bandage and plenty of plasters for blistered feet.
- Favourite toys and comforters.
- Children under 4 years who will be attending nurseries will need to have proof of up to date vaccinations (letter from their doctor) in order to be accepted.
- Register your details with www.familysafeholidays.co.uk where you can store vital information.
Once in resort
Prepare for the snow each morning:
- Ensure you eat breakfast, packed with carbohydrates (such as breakfast cereal) to provide energy both for skiing and keeping warm.
- Wear plenty of warm waterproof clothing and comfortable boots. Temperatures can fall fast on the mountain and children often fail to anticipate how cold they can get. Several thin layers are best. A one-piece ski suit is the most convenient but at least with a two piece the child can wear the jacket at other times. Hats are essential - more heat is lost through the head than any other body part. Decent gloves are also vital. A proper ski helmet and goggles are needed to protect eyes and head (we recommend children under 13 wear a helmet). Remember that goggles should be big enough to fit over the helmet. Remember warm kids are happy kids - and you will be happier too!
- Cover exposed skin with sunscreen factor 30-plus. Be sure to take lip balm and extra sunscreen with you on the slopes, as these will need to be reapplied during the day.
Injuries on the ski slopes are directly related to age, ability, conditions and equipment, as well as tiredness. Ensure:
- Your children's ski equipment is suitable for them and their ability: make sure the bindings on their skis are adjusted by a qualified technician for easy release. Many serious accidents among children are a result of bindings, which don't release when the child falls.
- Lessons are from qualified instructors.
- Take adverse weather reports seriously.
- When they say they've had enough, stop and don't over estimate your children's ability.
Child safety device
Magnestick is a new safety device for children, which can be found in 3 of Ski Collection’s ski resorts in France.
This is a simple yet very effective device: A permanent magnet is fixed to the seat of the chairlift and is activated for the whole ride up including when the child gets on. A light (200g) back protector worn by the child includes a metallic plate. Children wear this protection throughout the day's skiing (not only when taking the chairlift). This vest comes in a bright colour so that children can be seen on the slopes and to avoid collisions with other slope users. On their way down, this CE-approved back protector protects their backs if they fall or collide with someone else.
On arrival at the top, the magnet is automatically deactivated when the child gets off. The child can then get up from the seat normally. The risk of a child falling off before getting to the top is prevented as the magnet is only deactivated when the child puts their skis on the snow (even if someone lifts the restraining bar well before arrival).
As soon as the metallic plate in the back protector comes into contact with the magnet on the chairlift, the child is ‘attached’ to the seat. The aim is to protect children at each stage of the chairlift transport process!
STAGE 1 - Getting on: As soon as the child is sat with their back against the back of the seat, the system prevents any risk of sliding off even if the person accompanying does not immediately lower the restraining bar.
STAGE 2 - The ride up: The child can still move about freely but is ‘attached’ to the seat during the whole ride up. The system avoids any risk of sliding under the restraining bar.
STAGE 3 - Getting off: Even if the restraining bar is lifted before arrival, the child remains safely ‘attached to the seat' until their skis touch the snow.
Magnestick can be found in the following ski resorts:
4 chairlifts: Signal (6 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked), Pralong (6 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked), Gravelles (4 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked) and Roc Mugnier (6 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked).
All 18 of Courchevel’s chairlifts will be fitted with Magnestick safety devices for children as of next winter.
Magnestick vests can be purchased or hired in Courchevel from: Société des 3 Vallées (Skipass office).
2 chairlifts: Petit Rochebrune (4 seater, 2 seats Magnesticked) and Grands Champs (4 seater, 2 seats Magnesticked).
Magnestick vests can be purchased or hired in Megeve from: Ski Concept/Twinner, Télécabine du Chamois, 74120, Megève.
4 chairlifts within Méribel-Mottaret: Combes (4seater, 2 seats Magnesticked), Arolles (4 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked), Chatelet (6 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked) and Plan des mains (6 seater, 1 seat Magnesticked).
Magnestick vests can be purchased or hired in Meribel from: Muller Sports, Sport 2000, Centre Commercial Le Ruitor, 73550 Méribel Mottaret. Sport Boutique, Place de L’Office de Tourisme, 73550 Méribel.
The Skiers Code
The FIS (International Ski Federation) has established ten rules for the conduct of skiers and snowboarders. They are to ensure safety on the slopes and are governed by law and apply to both skiers and snowboarders. In short, they are:
- Respect Do not endanger others
- Control Adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and to the general conditions on the mountain
- Choice of route The skier/snowboarder in front has priority - leave enough space
- Overtaking Leave plenty of space when overtaking a slower skier/snowboarder
- Entering and starting Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run
- Stopping Only stop at the edge of the piste or where you can easily be seen
- Climbing When climbing up or down, always keep to the side of the piste
- Signs Obey all signs and markings - they are there for your safety
- Assistance In case of accidents provide help and alert the rescue service
- Identification All those involved in an accident, including witnesses, should exchange names and addresses
Important guidelines for skiers and snowboarders
- You ski/board at your own risk
- Pay attention to all signs and markers
- Please ski/board on marked runs - these are protected from unexpected alpine dangers
- The areas outside the marked runs are called 'Hors Piste'; they are not patrolled or groomed
- Watch out for piste preparation machines
- Respect nature - take care not to ski in areas where young trees or wildlife will be disturbed and don't drop litter
- Consider taking lessons on a dry slope, and fitness sessions before going on holiday
The above guidelines apply to all users of the marked pistes.
Skiing or snowboarding off-piste
- Outside the marked pistes and itineraries are areas, which are NOT protected from alpine dangers
- Signs around the ski area will warn you when avalanche danger is present
- Even when there is no warning of avalanches there could be local snow slides
- Unless you know an area well, only ski/board off-piste with a guide
Alcohol and altitude don't mix!
Alcohol can affect you more quickly at high altitudes and seriously limits your awareness of danger and cold. Heavy drinking is often a key factor in many consular cases linked to skiing and snowboarding. As well as putting yourself and others at risk, if you are involved in an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol your insurance cover may be invalid. As a result, you may have to pay thousands in medical expenses if you are injured.
Dr Laurence Bristow-Smith, British Consul General in Milan, said: “We’ve provided support in a couple of consular cases where fatal accidents in the mountains were a direct result of drinking too much alcohol. In one case the insurance company refused to pay out as the policy holder ‘had put himself in unnecessary danger and was under the influence of alcohol.’ This meant that repatriation costs, amounting to thousands of Euros, had to be met by the family.”