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How to stay safe on the ski slopes

How to stay safe on the ski slopes

It’s ski season! Whether you’re a novice, beginner or experienced snowboarder or skier, if you’re heading to the Alps this winter, make sure you’re aware of the potential risks involved in this type of adventure holiday!

Ski holidays offer families a dose of adrenaline in the form of sliding down the slopes, and quality time relaxing by the fireside in a cosy chalet. Most European ski resorts in France, Austria and Switzerland open for their ski season from November until mid-April which is why families in the UK opt to go skiing in February half-term or during the Easter break. However, with all holidays, especially ski holidays, it’s important to know the potential risks.

Protect yourself from the sun

Yes, you can get sunburnt, even on a cold skiing holiday! Why you ask, because the snow is super reflective, in fact, on a clear day, 85% of the sun’s UV rays can reflect back towards you.

  • Only ski in the early mornings and late afternoon, try to avoid the sun at midday when it’s at its strongest.
  • Protect your skin from the sun (link to protect yourself from the sun blog) by covering any exposed skin, wear a helmet to prevent scalp burn and sun goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from the sun glare and the skin around.
  • Liberally apply sun cream to the face, ears and neck 30 minutes before going outside, the higher the SPF the better. You can get burned anywhere your skin is exposed, so pay close attention to the chin and nose in particular. Top up on your sun cream throughout the day especially if it’s been washed off by sweat or falling in the snow.
  • Lip balm with SPF is essential. Burnt, dry, cracked lips are extremely uncomfortable and can be very sensitive when exposed to the sun. Apply lip balm throughout the day and ensure it has an SPF of 15

Get fit for skiing

If you’ve never been on a skiing holiday before, make sure you are physically fit to take part in the activities. It might be worth you exercising 12-6 weeks before your holiday so that your body has a good head start before facing the physical challenges of snowsports. Plan a fitness programme that incorporates strength, flexibility and endurance.

Dress appropriately

If you don’t wear the right clothes when you’re on the slopes, you could be at risk of catching hypothermia.

  • Invest in some thermal layers and a proper ski jacket
  • Wear a warm pair of socks, gloves and ski boots
  • Always wear a helmet when you’re on the slopes. More than 50% of all severe and fatal injuries in snow sports are head injuries. Snowboarding can be particularly dangerous with people sliding down the slopes at up to 50mph.

Make yourself aware of the 10 rules of ski and snowboard conduct

Much like cars obey the rules of the road, there is a snowsports highway code which is legally binding to anyone on the slopes. The FIS (International Ski Federation) developed 10 rules of conduct to follow and it’s important to familiarise yourself with these rules before heading off on holiday:

1. Respect others

A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he or she does not endanger or prejudice others.

2. Control of speed

Every skier or snowboarder must move in control. They must adapt to the speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.

3. Choice of route

A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way not to endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead

4. Overtaking

A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.

5. Entering, starting and moving upwards

A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.

6. Stopping

Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move and clear the slope as soon as possible.

7. Climbing and descending on foot

A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slope.

8. Respect signs and markings

Skiers and snowboarders must respect all signs and markings.

9. Assistance

At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty-bound to assist.

10. Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.

Travel Insurance

If you’re heading off on a winter holiday, travel insurance is an absolute must! Unexpected costs can rise if you need urgent medical treatment or if your bags have been lost or stolen. Always check your policy before you leave to ensure it covers winter sports and any other activities you wish to do while you’re out there.

Multi-Trip Travel Insurance

Did you know, we offer a multi-trip travel insurance upgrade? Here at General & Medical, we know the importance of looking after the health of you and your family whether you’re home or away. We give you the chance to add optional Multi-Trip Travel Insurance to your healthcare policy which includes cover for winter sports! Get a free, instant quote online today!

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