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Ski Safe - Top tips to stay safe and injury free when skiing

It's that time of year again. We are all keen to get out on the slopes or to head off piste for some fresh tracks. Here are my top tips to stay safe and injury free when skiing and what to do if something bad does happen.


[Image courtesy of Gavin Pike,

Before you go:

1) Make sure you are fit for your ski holiday. Go to the gym or train at home doing ski specific exercises to make sure your body is ready for a week of skiing. You want to come back with both your ACLs still in tact!!

2) Make sure you are insured correctly. Buy your own ski specific insurance or buy the insurance offered with your ski pass.  Make sure you know exactly what the insurance you have got covers. Is off-piste skiing covered? Would you need search and rescue cover? Repatriation? 

3) Take an Outdoor First Aid course. BASI Instructor, Alison Thacker and British Mountain Guide, Rob Jarvis regularly update their first aid skills with React First on our ITC 16hr Outdoor First Aid course.

4) Read this excellent article by Roger Webb of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team on how to get found alive if you do have an accident, it's not all blue skies and powder days: After the Accident - How to Get Found Alive, go out and buy some nice, brightly coloured outdoor clothing, tie a whistle to your bag and tell someone where you've gone! Note my yellow trousers, orange hat and turquoise jacket in the picture above.

5) If it's been a while, why not book a ski lesson or if you'd like to head somewhere more adventurous but don't have the mountain skills book a mountain guide to take you out.

6) Remind yourself of the rules of the pistes and make sure everyone in your group know them too. For a clear recap, check out the Piste X Code, a community initiative in Morzine, Lets Gets and Avoriaz aiming to make us all more considerate on the slopes and help avoid accidents. 

/media/firstaidtips/library/pistexcode.jpgOn the day:

1) Warm up. Make sure you do a few warm up runs on easy pistes before you head off-piste or onto harder slopes.

2) Stay warm and keep eating and drinking. Make sure you are constantly snacking on those long cold ski lifts and remain properly hydrated. Always stop for lunch to warm up and refuel.

3) Know your limits. The more tired you get, the more likely you are to injury yourself.

4) Often the last run of the day back to the car park is busy and icy. Why not take a lift down instead?

/media/firstaidtips/library/piste-rescue-number.jpg5) Make sure you know what to do and who to call if something bad happens! Pick up a piste map before you head into resort. It has the piste rescue numbers on it. If you are heading off piste make sure you’ve got the local rescue numbers with you. If you regularly head into terrain where there is limited mobile phone reception, think seriously about buying a sat phone or a radio to contact the emergency services.

6) If you are heading off-piste make sure you and everyone in your group has got the correct safety equipment: transceiver, shovel, probe, and that you all know how to use it. Carry a whistle and a first aid kit. Make sure that there is a group shelter in the group too.

7) Do a full transceiver check in the car park to make sure everyone has their transceiver on and that they have enough battery life left.

If something happens:

/media/firstaidtips/library/crossed-skis.jpg1) Check for Danger. Make sure that you, your casualty and the rest of your group are safe. This could be safe from the weather, from other skiers or from other geographical dangers like seracs, steep slopes above where you are etc.

2) Administer first aid if required.

3) Call for help. Make sure you have the emergency numbers with you before you set off, and calmly and clearly give the following information:

  • Who? Your name and the telephone number you are calling from
  • What? Type of accident, number of victims, seriousness, type of injuries.
  • Where? Your location, the route you are on / which piste you are on or near and your altitude.
  • When? Time of accident.
  • Weather? Depending on where you are and how help will get to you you might be asked about wind speed, wind direction and visibility.

Have a great holiday. Hope you get some fresh tracks :o)

Sign up for one of our public outdoor first aid courses in London or drop us email if you have any questions about organsing training for your group or workplace.

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