Common Ski Hazards to Avoid
by G. Kunkel
(This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 1/3/2011)
Beginner and veteran skiers and snowboarders can sometimes be unaware of the safety hazards while out on the ski slopes. They are either unfamiliar with the dangers or forgotten the consequences of ignoring safe skiing practices. By learning and preparing for potential hazards, skiers and snowboarders can have a safe day out the ski slopes.
Don’t ski alone
Skiing or snowboarding with others is a great way to have fun and be safe on the ski slopes. If someone is injured or has a medical problem, other members of the ski party can quickly summon help. While cell phones are useful, they provide unreliable service at most western ski resorts.
Beware of tree wells
Skiing and snowboarding in deep powder is one of the greatest pleasures of the sport. When combined with tree skiing it presents a new unfamiliar danger to many – tree wells. Every ski season skiers and snowboarders become trapped in tree wells, suffocate, and die.
In no instance should anyone ski or snowboard in the trees by themselves. Travel in pairs in the trees and keep within hearing distance of one another at all times. Learn more about tree well safety at http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com/
Wear eye protection
UV ray exposure increases with altitude. A ski resort with an elevation of 9000 ft is exposed to 45-50% more UV radiation than at sea level. Protect your eyes from damaging UV rays and the elements with either goggles or sunglasses. Sunburn of the cornea (snowblindness) occurs when eyes are exposed to the reflective glare off snow.
Increasing altitudes also present an increased risk for skin sunburn. Protect your skin by either covering it up or using a high SPF sunscreen. Check for sunscreen coverage on noses, ears, and necks. Reapply after lunch.
Skiing and snowboarding consumes a lot of energy in many of the body’s muscle groups. It takes steady water consumption to fuel muscles and flush out the lactic acid waste. In dry mountain climates like Colorado, just breathing causes body moisture loss. Use a Camelback or other hydration system to keep hydrated. Staying hydrated can also help prevent altitude sickness.
Scarves, dangling ski passes, backpacks, and coat cords can all become entangled in the chairlift. Once entangled, they can cause strangulation upon exiting the chairlift. Eliminate the use of scarves and help everyone including small children be safe on the chairlift. Don’t let this safety hazard happen to your loved ones.
Wear a whistle
It’s amazing how little distance sound will carry in the trees or other rugged terrain. For those who love trees and challenging terrain while skiing and snowboarding, wear a whistle on your coat. Whistles can carry sound farther and longer than human voices. Whistles are more likely to summon help in an emergency.
Don’t duck roped off areas
Ski Patrol and mountain management are not out to ruin their guests fun. They do want them to have fun and be safe. Ski Patrol ropes off unsafe runs, marks unsafe areas, and marks the ski area boundaries. Ducking ropes or ignoring signs can and has resulted in skier and snowboarder deaths. Roped off areas are not patrolled and skiing hazards could include – unexpected overnights outdoors, avalanches, cliffs, and even old deep mine shafts. Ducking ropes usually results in loss of season passes.
Follow the safety code
The National Ski Areas Association has the Responsibility Code published on their website. In many states, the Code is also the law. Learn the code and follow it. Those who enjoy terrain parks should learn more about terrain park safety rules and etiquette at http://www.terrainparksafety.org/index.asp. Don’t have another skier land on you while in the terrain park. Young children should be under adult supervision at all times in terrain parks.
Who enjoys aggressive or clueless drivers on the freeway? Before heading out on the ski slopes for the first time, take a lesson from a trained professional instructor. Experienced ski and snowboard instructors can provide helpful lessons and keep you safe out on the ski slopes. You’ll have more fun and can experience more of the ski resort.
Don’t over-terrain yourself or others in your group
Trying to ski or snowboard on slopes that are over ones ability level can lead to life-changing injuries. Keep a trail map handy and stay on ski trails that all members of the party are comfortable on. Don’t risk a torn ACL or other injury.
Staying safe while out on the ski slopes requires some common sense and the ability to watch out for out-of-control skiers. If you see something unsafe, point it out to ski patrol or fill out a guest comment card at the guest service area. If involved in an accident or witness an accident, stay on the scene until ski patrol arrives.
Personal knowledge and experience
© 2008-2014 G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and Colorado, snowboards, and scooters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Google