How to Stay Safe While Skiing or Snowboarding
It’s easy to get injured on the slopes, especially if you or someone in your family is new to skiing and snowboarding. To stay safe, you need to know which equipment is non-negotiable, where your blind spots are, how to yield properly, and so forth.
Before you head to the nearest resort or cross-country skiing trail, brush up on these essential safety tips to ensure everyone has a great time.
Gearing up for a powder day
First things first, the whole family needs proper gear. Assuming you already have a snowboard or skis, boots and bindings, and the appropriate layers for the weather, here’s what else you need:
- Helmet. Always, and we mean always, wear a well-fitted helmet. Even if you’ll only be practicing on the bunny hill, a helmet is still the most important piece of safety equipment you can have. Make sure you’re using a helmet specifically for skiing or snowboarding, because these helmets have space for your goggles and ventilation for warmer days.
- Goggles. Eye protection is key if you want to see properly. When the sun bounces of bright white snow, or when it’s snowing, you’ll be glad your eyes are covered.
- Wrist guards. Some snowboarders swear by wrist guards, which offer protection against broken forearms and wrists when you’re learning (and falling often).
- Sunscreen. The sun’s rays are intense out here in Colorado, especially when they reflect off snow. Protect your skin, including your lips, by slathering sunscreen on exposed areas before getting on the chairlift.
- Slopeside safety tips
You’re all geared up and ready to go, but safety doesn’t end there. You also need to stay safe while skiing or snowboarding:
- Be aware of blind spots. Because snowboarders face sideways, there’s a blind spot behind them. Before making a heel-edge turn, check for other people and obstacles.
- Keep your head on a swivel. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, it never hurts to maintain a strong defense by checking your surroundings regularly. You never know if everyone else is skiing safely, but keeping an eye out gives you time to react.
- Yield to people in front of and below you. They have the right of way, and they can’t see you, so it’s your job to steer clear. When passing someone on a narrow trail or catwalk, it’s also good practice to yell out, “On your right!” or “On your left!”
- Look uphill before merging. Before you merge into a new trail, glance uphill to make sure someone else isn’t coming right toward your intended path.
- Stop safely. Never stop in the middle of a trail. Instead, pull off to the side or wait for a designated resting area. Stopping below a drop off or at the bottom of a hill is also a bad idea.
- Mind the signs. While you’re enjoying a day in the snow, don’t ignore signs on the trails. You might see signage for trail boundaries and warnings to slow down, for example.
Now that you know how to stay safe, it’s time to find a spot to ski or board! If you aren’t sure where to go, don’t miss our guide to Skiing and Snowboarding on the Western Slope.