As a mum of two little children, the risk of ski accidents is often on my mind as my family heads to the mountain. Of course, there are horror stories out there, crazy things that you hear about from others or things you’ve witnessed or experienced yourself. There is a heap of people on the snow every day. So, what can you do to keep your precious little noisy things safe?
Well, what’s most important to me is making sure that I teach my kids a consistent plan, because being safe is within our control and safety should always be an ongoing discussion. Throughout the years, I’ve compiled my best tips for keeping kids safe on the ski mountain.
Here’s what you should know when you’re on your next trip to the snow!
1. Super important ** Wear the right sized helmet.
I’m guilty of this, but as a parent, you’re likely to buy into the mentality that “they’ll grow into it.” It saves you money not to have to buy a new jumper, pair of jeans, pair of shoes, etc. every season or month if your child grows constantly. Yet, this is NOT a mentality to use when it comes to snowsport helmets. Whether they’re skiing or snowboarding, make sure your child has a helmet that fits well. I explore helmets in another post.
2. Ski school!
It’s true, some may see Ski School as childcare, but there is a real point to it. Depending on your own level on the mountain, you may be tempted to teach your child yourself. However, putting your kids in ski or snowboard school can help them learn how to get control of their body and speed early on from a professional instructor. They’ll also learn all the rules of the mountain from an outside individual which, let’s face it, can sometimes be more effective than from a parent.
3. Chairlifts – Give your child directions before you get on.
Every time you head out for a ski at a new resort, or even if it’s your first ski of the new season, make sure you discuss the proper procedures for a chairlift with your child. It pays to remind them of safety procedures and chairlift etiquette even if they’re a little older. Mention how they should stand to prepare, what to do if they’re a single rider, what they should do with ski poles, how they should sit while in it, and remind them to always have the safety bar down. Chairlifts are potentially very dangerous for children, so instructing your children on the proper way to use them is a must.
4. Ski or snowboard behind your child.
This is more a tip for you than it is for your child, but when you’re skiing as a family, always put an adult behind the children. If anything were to happen, you’d be able to ski directly to your child rather than having to climb back up the mountain. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way on an infamous whiteout day on Cardrona and I will never forget it. This always allows you to have eyes on them. Just remember that it may be difficult for your child to talk as they ski, so don’t call after them. It’s likely that their helmet also inhibits their hearing, which means that it’s best to wait until you’re both in a safe spot to talk.
5. Meeting up along the run
It’s often that we find ourselves stopping along a run. It’s good to take stock with your children, especially if the run is a longer one or if they’re not experienced on that particular one. Talk about where they should stop if they need to – on the left of the run, or on the right, along the straight, not where the run curves – so they know where they can safely wait for Parent #2 (the one on the tail) if they need to.
6. Keep everyone fed and hydrated.
It’s easy to stay out on the mountain all day, but if you’re skiing hard then it’ll pay off to be conscious of everyone’s hydration. Is your child getting enough water and snacks? Becoming dehydrated is dangerous, and it may not be obvious until they’re past the point of no return, multiple lifts away from the resort base. The last thing you want is for them to reach the point of exhaustion before it’s even lunchtime. Check in often on this!
Ski safety is all about teaching your kids early, and reminding them often, how to be safe on the mountain. Each time you go skiing, remind your kids of your family’s safety rules, and be sure to stick to them yourself so your kids know that it’s a communal expectation. Snowsafe.org.au is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in reading more about snow safety.