Skiing is a wonderful sport that we’ve enjoyed as families over the years, but it’s very important that you, your family, and friends ski safely. The key to safe skiing is “control.” Skiers have been sued for injuring other skiers, so here are the universal rules of the mountains. They are called the Responsibility Code from the National Ski Area Association, and you must be able to ski according to these rules. They are posted and it is assumed that you have read them.
- Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- If you must stop, be sure you are not obstructing the trail or where you are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and 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 a lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Those of us who ski often have seen the results of skiing unsafely. We know that a skier can travel at more than 40 miles per hour, and up to 150 miles per hour. We have seen what happens when skiers out of control ruin the day for others. Both my husband and I have been in mishaps because children and/or adults have barreled down a trail or mountain at us or have lost control after getting off a lift. Today you are legally responsible for that accident.
Here’s are some other ski safety tips:
- Do start to get into shape early. Whatever you do, don’t tackle the mountain with weak legs and body muscles. You’re asking for a cast or something worse. Stretching, and losing a few extra pounds before you hit the slopes, will help reduce the incidence of accidents.
- Dress in layers-it allows for accommodating the body’s constantly changing temperatures and the changing temperatures of the mountain from early morning to full noonday sun to afternoon shadows. Be prepared for weather changes and always wear a ski hat or headband. Remember that 60-80% of heat loss from the body is through the head. Make sure everyone’s wearing ski gloves or mittens (the later is better for kids and adults who are prone to cold hands). If it’s really cold, everyone will need a face mask as well.
- Be sure to wear sun protection, even on cloudy days. The reflection of the sun off the snow is stronger than you might imagine. Always wear eye protection such as sunglasses or ski goggles.
- No matter your level of expertise, invest in ski lessons the first time on the slopes and the first time at a resort that’s new to you. It will make skiing a lot safer and enjoyable if you learn the runs from an instructor.
- Always focus 100% of your attention on your skiing and the mountain in front of you. Watch for ice, rocks, trees, low or fallen branches, and the other skiers around you. Never ski out of control; keep a distance of least 25-50 feet between you and other skiers. If a run is busy, stop and let other skiers pass. You can then proceed down the slope more safely once the run has cleared. Stay out of the way of snow vehicles and obey all advisory signs.
- Don’t try to ski a run that’s beyond your experience. Keep yourself to the groomed portions of the trails. Remember to ski to the right when passing oncoming skiers and when skiing a double track. On a 2-way trail, the descending skiers always have the right of way. Yield when merging.
- Don’t obstruct the trail. If you fall or must stop, move off the track quickly.
- Know your limits. Stop before you become fatigued. Most accidents happen when one goes for that “one last run,” when instead they should have stopped for the day.
- Make sure your equipment is in top condition and that the bindings are not loose. If your equipment is old, you might want to consider upgrading your boots, bindings, and skis to some with newer technology, or rent equipment.
- Be sure to carry carbohydrate snacks as well as your glucometer. You’ll be using a lot of energy and you will want to take blood glucose levels on a regular basis and be able to treat low blood glucose levels. Do remember that there are no instant carbohydrates so retake your blood glucose level in 30 minutes after eating to make sure you are OK. Don’t over-treat hypoglycemia. It’s easy to do, but leads to yo-yoing of blood glucose levels. If you are using a pump, lower your basal rate while you are skiing and for a few hours after you plan to stop, to help control this problem, but never think the machine can do it all. No matter how you control your diabetes, start the day skiing easy slopes and work up to those challenging slopes. Also, carry a water bottle or stop for a drink, as skiing can be dehydrating.
- Never ski alone, and always let someone know where you’re skiing and when to expect you back. Carry identification on you at all times and make sure that it identifies you as having diabetes.
- Have fun and be safe!