Since the third grade, I’ve always looked forward to the first snowfall. Once the fluffy white flakes stuck to the ground, I knew ski season coming. As I’ve skied for most of my life, I’ve had my fair share of big falls and close calls. Although I’ve always come out OK, sometimes people forget that skiing can be dangerous. It is important to be safe when skiing to ensure you and other skiers avoid serious injury.
Here are a few things I’ve picked up over the years that help me be safer on the slopes:
- Wear a helmet
Skiers, especially new ones, spend a lot of time falling down. Often, a little spill will not do much damage besides a bruised ego. Other times, you can lose control of yourself and find yourself sliding straight into a tree. Further, when the slopes get icy, even a small spill can result in hitting your head on a hard surface. To be safe, everyone should wear a helmet when skiing to prevent worse damage from colliding into obstacles on the slopes. The last thing you want while skiing is a severe head injury, so please wear your helmet.
- Ensure you have proper equipment
Skiing involves a lot of different equipment. If it doesn’t fit properly, it can be a hazard going down the mountain. Before starting, make sure your ski boots and skis fit together and lock in place correctly. Tighten your boots all the way to make sure you are secured. Loose equipment can lead to your skis falling off more easily, which can lead to serious injury on the mountain.
In addition, when temperatures drop and winds are blowing, frostbite is a serious concern. It is crucial to dress warmly to prevent serious frostbite injuries. Remember that on the top of a mountain, the temperature is much colder than at the base, so even if you think it’s nice and warm, adding an extra layer can never hurt. It is vital that you wear a warm coat, warm pants, a hat under your helmet, goggles and winter gloves. If you think it will be extra cold, it might help to have a couple sets of hand warmers in your gloves!
- Start out on the beginner slopes
If you are new to skiing, chances are you are not ready to hop on the big lift and rip down the mountain. Be patient and get comfortable on your skis. Most mountains have a learner’s area that are great for working on your turns and balance. It is best to start off in these areas. Usually, there are dedicated staff members there to help you if you fall or have trouble getting up. If you are really uneasy, sign up for a lesson. It can never hurt to get a few extra pointers before heading up the ski lift.
- Pay attention to where you’re going
There are all kinds of obstacles on the mountain. Trees. Lift poles. Other skiers. You must keep your head up and watch where you’re going. If you are traveling faster than a skier in front of you, call out “on your right/left!” so they know you are passing. Additionally, certain areas are marked “closed” because they are dangerous. Make sure to watch out for signs and to always be in control of yourself and your direction. Otherwise, you could get lost and get seriously injured. If you or someone you are with is hurt on the mountain, find the nearest ski patrol. If you have cell phone reception, it might help to save the ski patrol number into your phone before you head out for the day.
- Don’t ski alone
This might seem obvious, but you should never ski alone. Depending on where you’re skiing, there are often areas not often traveled. If you were to get hurt or lost, you would want someone there to help you make it out in one piece.
Skiing can be so much fun if done safely. Take care of yourself this winter and don’t forget to wear your helmet!
Skiing can be so much fun if done safely. Jake Balbach explains.