There are a lot of kids on the slopes these days. According to estimates, 13 percent of kids on the slopes are under 5 years old, 41 percent are 5 to 10 years old and 46 percent are 11 to 15. Rushing downhill at high speeds can be a thrilling experience for kids. But skiing also poses a danger to children. With so many young people skiing, ski safety for kids is more important than ever. Are you getting ready to hit the slopes with your kids? There are some important things you need to know to keep your kids safe while skiing this winter. Here are some helpful ski safety tips for kids.
Teach Kids the Dangers of Skiing
Ski safety for kids starts with kids understanding the dangers inherent in skiing. Have you ever noticed the list of ski dangers listed on the back of your lift ticket? That’s the Skier Safety Code and teaching the seven dangers listed in the code to kids is the first step in keeping them safe on the slopes. The ski dangers listed include changing weather conditions, collisions with natural and man-made objects, collisions with other skiers, variations of terrain, dangers of skiers who ski outside their ability level, snow conditions and the dangers posed by rocks, stumps, trees and bare spots.
Ski with a Buddy
The second rule of ski safety for kids is to never allow your child to ski alone. No matter how experienced a skier your child is, accidents can and do happen. Make sure your child has a buddy with them to summon help if they experience a fall, collision or other emergency that makes it impossible to continue skiing.
Know Limits & When to Stop
In order to be a safe skier, kids need to know their limits. Be honest with kids about their skiing abilities. A beginning skier should never try an expert slope. Skiing beyond their ability is a sure way for kids to experience an injury. Ski safety for kids also means teaching kids when they should stop and head into the lodge. Kids should stop skiing if they are injured, have equipment problems, their inner layer of clothing is wet or if they become chilled or tired.
Use Correct Equipment for Kids
Use ski equipment and gear that is sized especially for kids. Make sure skis are not too heavy or long for kids. The use of incorrect equipment could cause serious injury.
Carry Walkie Talkies
If kids get separated from their ski buddy or get lost, a walkie talkie makes it easier to find them.
Carry Food & Water
Skiing is strenuous exercise and the high altitudes can easily exhaust kids. Dehydration can also be a concern. Carrying a snack and some water is a great ski safety tip for kids. This is especially important in case kids get lost away from the lodge for a lengthy period of time.
Follow the Rules
Proper ski safety for kids means following all the ski safety rules. Don’t assume kids know the rules. Go over the rules with them and discuss the correct ways for kids to follow them. Make sure kids know not to ski past established boundaries. Teach them about possible warning signs they might see on the slopes.
Practice Good Skier Etiquette
Kids who don’t practice good skier etiquette are not only a danger to other skiers, but also to themselves. Ski safety for kids requires kids to understand the importance of not stopping in the middle of a trail, when to yield to other skiers, how to be aware of other skiers, how to merge onto a trail and how to pass another skier.
Exercise and Stretching
Having kids stretch before they ski and exercise during the summer and fall months to strengthen their muscles helps keep them safe by preventing injuries.
Use Protective Equipment
When most people think of ski safety for kids, they think of helmets. But protective equipment is so much more. Don’t forget to have your child use hats, headbands, gloves, goggles with built-in sunglasses, hand warmers and boot warmers too.
Dress in Layers
Another important ski safety rule for kids is to dress in layers. During a ski session, the outside temperature and weather conditions can fluctuate from bitterly cold to relatively warm and sunny. Dressing your child in layers allows their body to acclimate to the changing temperatures. Some good layering choices include polypropylene underwear, a turtleneck and a sweater.
Wearing sunblock is important for safety even in the dead of winter. White snow reflects the sun back onto skiers and can be surprisingly intense. In fact, sunburns can occur in the winter just as easily as in the summer, especially in kids who spend hours outdoors on a ski slope. Don’t forget the SPF lip balm to prevent sunburn and chapped lips as well.
Take a Ski Instruction Class
Even if your child has skied many times before, a great ski safety tip for kids is to have them take a ski instruction class before they’re allowed out on the slopes. This is especially important at a new resort or at the beginning of the season as kids’ ski skills often regress without regular practice. A ski class is also a great refresher of the ski safety rules. Plus, kids can make some great friends in their class.
Equip Kids with Emergency Contact Information
Make sure your child carries emergency contact information with them at all times. This is a ski safety tip that may not cross the mind of many parents. Kids should keep your name and contact number as well as that of their hotel in a secure zippered pocket inside their jacket. A trail map may also prove helpful.
National Ski Areas Association