Skiing Safety Tips

Skiing can be a fun wintertime activity as long as skiers exercise awareness and follow safety precautions on the slopes. Being unprepared for the possible dangers of skiing can result in serious injury or even death, but taking the proper precautions can reduce these risks.

Ski Equipment and Safety

A large percentage of all ski injuries are the result of improper binding performance.[1] Ski bindings can fail to release or otherwise malfunction, causing ankle or knee injuries. To prevent this type of injury, skiers should check their equipment before taking it out on the slopes. Rented and owned equipment should be checked for defects and to ensure that it is working properly. Ski shops and lodges generally have experienced staff members who can check equipment for defects.[2]

Before You Ski

Even properly working gear cannot save a skier from injury if the user is not prepared to use it. Inexperienced skiers should stay off of the more serious slopes not only to keep themselves safe, but also to avoid causing safety issues for more-experienced skiers. Taking a lesson can help a skier improve knowledge on how to stay safe on the slopes. Skiers should be aware of their limits before going out on the slopes.[3]

Plan for Safety When Skiing

Skiers need to be prepared for the conditions in which they are about to ski. It is important to know what the weather and slope conditions will be like before going out, as windy or icy slopes can increase the danger. Skiers should wear proper gear and clothing for the conditions; water-resistant materials and layered outfits are essential to staying warm and dry, and for reducing the risk of illness. It is important to remember that skiers can become dehydrated on the slopes. The sun also poses a risk to skiers due to the reflective nature of snow. UV protection through goggles or sunglasses is an effective way to protect the eyes from sun damage.[4]

Skiing Rules and Regulations

While each ski area has its own rules and regulations, the National Ski Areas Association developed a “Responsibility Code” to help skiers reduce the risks associated with skiing. The Code offers seven points to guide skiers:

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.[5]

The National Ski Areas Association also recommends wearing a helmet, warming up before starting, and getting in shape before going skiing.[6]

There is no way to prevent all the dangers of the sport, but taking precautions and being prepared can help to reduce the risks of injury.

About the Author: Paul Hux is a partner and trial attorney at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. His practice is dedicated entirely to plantiff’s personal injury, including car accidents, wrongful death, and traumatic brain injuries. Paul works in of the firm’s Chesterfield office and has been practicing personal injury law for more than 20 years.