Skip to main content

Safety Tips Everyone Should Know for Skiing, Snowboarding & Sledding

Mar 11, 2014 01:03AM ● By Erin Frisch

Winter sports are a ton of fun and a good way to pass the time during this cold, blustery season. If you live near the mountains or don’t mind making the trek, skiing and snowboarding are great ways to spend a day or weekend enjoying the snow with your friends and family. If you’re not into those sports or want to stay local, you can always grab a sled and head to the nearest hill. Either way, there is some danger involved in any sport that involves speeding down a hill. Check out our safety tips for participating in snow sports!

Skiing and Snowboarding

● First things first: Make sure you have the proper equipment and that it is correctly matched to your skill level. If you are renting equipment, make sure the bindings are adjusted to your difficulty level and stance at the shop where you’re renting. If you have your own equipment, give your skis or board a good once-over to make sure that no screws are loose and that the bindings are in good working order.

● If you haven’t skied or used a snowboard before, take a lesson when you get to the mountain. Even if a friend or family member is willing to teach you, you may find it’s easier to take direction from a professionally qualified instructor.

● Wear a helmet. No matter what your age, skill, or the level of terrain you’ll be on, grab a helmet and protect your noggin. Most helmets keep your head as warm as a hat will and offer much better protection for that precious cargo inside.

● On a trail, note that people ahead of you have the right of way. Stay in control and know that it is your responsibility to avoid them. If you are merging from one trail onto another, slow down or stop and look uphill. The people uphill have the right of way when you’re merging into their run. Yield to them to avoid dangerous collisions.

● On a chairlift, be sure to sit all the way back, hold on, and pull down the safety bar. It’s there to keep you safe.

Sledding

● Avoid hills that end near streets and parking lots. Drivers may not be able to see sledders, making these hills dangerous. Also avoid hills that end near ponds, trees, and fences. Sliding into a pond or hitting a tree or fence poses significant hazards that you’ll want to avoid.

● Choose a hill that matches the skill level and age of those who will be sledding. A hill that is too steep can lead to too much speed and not enough control.

● Choose a hill that is snow covered and not icy. Icy hills pose a greater danger if you fall off a sled, and they can increase the risk of loss of control. Also make sure the hill is free of rocks, bumps, dips, and jumps that can lead to injury.

● Sled during the daytime for better visibility. If you choose to or can’t avoid sledding at night, make sure that the hill is well lit for good visibility of potential hazards.

● Wearing a helmet when you sled is also a good idea. Though it may not seem like you’re moving that fast, you’re moving faster than you think, and any unseen bump or divot can launch a rider off a sled.

● Avoid wearing long scarves that can get caught on or under the sled or other obstacles that may be present. If a scarf gets caught, it can cause strangulation. Wear a short scarf and be sure to have it securely tucked inside your jacket.

In General . . .

● Wear sunscreen. Sun reflects off the snow and onto your face, so although it’s cold out and it may not seem like you can burn, even on cloudy days the sun may be stronger than you think.

● Dress for comfort! Look for fabrics that are wind and water resistant, with wind flaps to seal zippers, cuffs that tighten at the wrists, drawstrings around the hips, and collars that zip right up to the chin. Dress in layers; the layers closest to your body should be made of moisture-wicking synthetic fabric on both top and bottom. They’ll pull moisture away from your skin without holding onto it the way cotton does, keeping you drier and warmer. On top, layer turtlenecks or half-zips and sweaters, depending on the temperature.

● Wear eye protection. Sunglasses or goggles will not only reduce glare off the snow on a sunny day but also protect your eyes in the event that you meet an obstacle.

● Know your limits and stay in control, no matter what snow sport you are participating in. If you start to get tired or your muscles get fatigued, stop and take a break or call it a day. There is always tomorrow to get back out there!

What is your favorite winter sport?

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Woodstock Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline