7 Tips to Stay Safe on the Slopes

    Travel Ski

    Going skiing or snowboarding can be an exhilarating experience. But it brings with it more than its fair share of dangers, especially when compared to lounging around in a deck chair by the pool all day. Travelling at high speed down a steep slope, you run the risk of colliding with other riders or of simply losing your balance. And as ski equipment improves more and more people are starting to venture off piste.

      We have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help British nationals stay safe abroad. Together with the Ski Club of Great Britain and ABTA, the FCO have put together a winter sports checklist as part of their Know Before You Go campaign to help skiers and snowboarders stay safe on the slopes. We have combined their main tips with our own below:

      snowboard

      1. Take out insurance

      It’s crucial to take out appropriate travel insurance before you go on holiday. Make sure you know exactly what your insurance covers. Some claims will be invalidated if you don’t wear a helmet, go off piste without a guide or are under the influence of alcohol.

      2. Have a health check-up

      Visit the doctor’s before you go and have your blood pressure, temperature, weight checked. You want to make sure that you’re in a fit state for carving up the slopes and won’t experience any unforeseen health issues on holiday.

      3. Don’t drink and ski!

      In the same way that you wouldn’t have a few beers before jumping in your car, don’t do it before you go skiing or snowboarding. The effects of alcohol are magnified at high altitude, and your beer jacket will prevent you from realising how cold you are.

      4. Watch your speed

      One of the biggest causes of ski and snowboard injuries is collisions with other riders. You’ll significantly reduce your chances of a crash by keeping your speed under control and by maintaining a safe distance between you and other riders – just like when driving a car.

      5. Stick to slopes you can handle

      A survey conducted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in November 2012 found that 65% of Brits would choose to tackle slopes beyond their ability in order to stay with their group of friends. Your personal safety is of prime concern. If you’ve only been snowboarding for two weeks, stick to the beginner runs. Leave the hair-raising verticals to the veterans in your group.

      6. Only go off piste with a qualified guide

      For experienced riders, nothing beats the thrill of tearing up fresh powder off piste. But with it comes a host of new dangers including avalanches, trees and cliffs to watch out for. If you do stray off the beaten track, always go with an experienced guide – either a ski instructor or a qualified mountain guide will do.

      7. Bring the right equipment

      Riding off piste requires you to carry a few basic pieces of equipment. Always bring a collapsible shovel for digging people out of the snow, an avalanche probe and a transceiver radio to let others know where you are. In Piedmont, Italy, it’s actually illegal to ride off-piste without these. They won’t take up much space. Don’t take the risk of travelling without them.

      Commonwealth Travel Advice

      If you’re a British traveller, you can get more travel safety tips by following the FCO on Twitter or Facebook.

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