Ski Safely...

 

HERE ARE SOME SAFETY TIPS FOR SKIING:

 

 

The following information has been provided by the National Ski Areas Association as a code of conduct for skiers and snowboarders for the enjoyment and safety of all people on the Hills. KNOW THE CODE AND PRACTICE IT.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITY CODE

1.    Ski under control and in such a manner that you can stop or avoid other skiers or objects. Excessive speed is dangerous!

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.    When entering or merging onto a trail or starting downhill, yield to others.

5.    All skiers shall use devices to prevent runaway skis.

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.

 

WHAT YOU NEED - Clothing & Equipment

Before buying equipment for young children - consider renting the first time out.  This gives you and your children a chance to try on equipment and proper sizing.

Visit a ski store first to see what new equipment costs, sizing as far as boots, ski lengths and types, and poll sizes.  Some stores also offer buy-back programs.  If you have more than one child, buying new sometimes pays off as it can be passed down.  You can also look at selling the equipment when it is outgrown.

Check out ski swaps and Ski Stores that sell used equipment - younger children's equipment usually doesn't see a lot of wear and is expensive to buy new - call local ski hills to find out about any ski swaps. 

Ski Boots should be snug and comfortable.

Insist that Children wear helmets. Some Ski Hills won't let anyone on certain runs without it.  To help keep ears and necks warm, add earbands and a neck warmer.  The neck warmer can be slipped up over the face right up to the goggles.

Everyone should have a pair of goggles.  They keep the sun, wind and snow out of the eyes (which can be a problem for little children) and help with sun safety.

 Equipment Checklist:

With the equipment out of the way, focus shifts to what to wear.  Winter clothes can be quite bulky so layered coats and sweaters will serve better than one large coat for different weather types. 

Buy Snowsuits that are bright and easily visible, water and wind resistant. Wind Flaps on zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles keep the wind and snow out.  NO DRAWSTRINGS ON COAT HOODS. Most Children's coats do not have drawstrings anymore as manufacturers have stopped putting them on.  Check to ensure that these are removed.  They can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation risk.

Dress in Layers  - three layers plus a jacket.  You can always remove a sweater and store it in the locker if you are getting too hot.   Polypropylene underwear or long johns (recommended as these will keep the back warmer) feel nice next to skin, dry quickly and absorbs sweat. Turtle necks will help keep necks warm (have some extra ones) and a wool sweater with help keep warmth in and take moisture away from the body.

Name Tags - Sewn inside the coat - not visible to strangers but available if children get lost on the hill.  Children should also have a ski map and a brochure from your hotel or resort inside their coat pockets just in case they get lost.

Mittens are best for younger  children as they keep the fingers warmer by keeping fingers together. This is especially important if children aren't using polls.  See Hitting the slopes with the kids for tips.

Gloves or Mittens that are water resistent (they have a plastic layer inside) are best.  Consider taking an extra pair with you to leave in the locker or car for young children.

Snow Boots for Apres Ski and Running shoes for the kids  - see packing tips.

 

PACKING

Packing for a winter or ski vacation requires a knack for taking only what is necessary while making sure you have everything you need.

Pack what you need first and see how much room you have left over. 

As Ski Jackets can be quite bulky, we suggest you don't pack your ski jackets but wear them instead.  

Winter boots are a must - boots with liners and extra insoles will keep feet warm for outdoor activities.  Wear your winter boots while you travel.  You can take them off in the Airplane or car during travel.  Don't forget to take some running shoes for the kids and shoes for a nice dinner out for the parents.  Running shoes for kids will be needed for indoor activities if your ski resort offers indoor children's programs.   

Make sure you take lots of warm socks and don't forget the sweaters.  

Take at least one nice outfit for each family member - a nice dinner out adds to that holiday feeling.  Track suits or leisure wear should form the bulk of your clothing.  Warm pajamas for at least the children are a must. 

Bathing Suits, Skates, hockey sticks and other accessories are optional and depend on the facilities at your lodgings/resorts and whether you are driving or flying.  

DON'T FORGET THE CAMERA/CAMCORDER to record those holiday memories. 

Sunscreen is a must on any winter holiday.

BEFORE YOU GO

Research your destination for ideas on destinations and don't forget to visit accompanying for accommodations.  Many Ski Resorts have child care available for non-skiing children.  Hotel Fun 4 Kidsô Ski Resort Listings include details of children's programs.  Many Ski Resorts also over multi-day discount passes and early/late season discounts.

Plan skiing trips for mid week or non-holiday times if you want to avoid the major crowds.  Ask the resorts when they are least busy - early/late season and check for discounts.

If you are taking equipment, have it checked out before you leave.  Have skis or snowboards waxed, sharpened and inspected to ensure bindings are secured before packing and make sure all the equipment fits.  Special bags designed for your ski/snowboard equipment make travel a lot easier.  If you are renting equipment, you'll just need to worry about all the accessories.

If possible, before you go, hit the slopes a couple times to get some practice before the holiday. Staying in shape on a regular basis will help with this.  Being fit makes skiing much more fun. 

Give the kids a couple lessons so they have an idea what to expect and have a little practice on the hills and with chairlifts, T-Bar tows and rope toes.   Lessons for first timers also start children off on the right foot (Or should we say Ski Boot).  This also gives them a chance to try on equipment or if renting, to know what size equipment.  

Make sure everyone KNOWS THE CODE (click here to visit Skiing Safety Tips and the Code), be safety conscious and respect other people using the hills.

Go over general family safety tips and visit WINTER SAFETY TIPS for safety tips about winter vacations including frost bite and hypothermia.

Insist that Children wear helmets.  Some Ski Hills won't let anyone on certain runs without it, even adults.  Click the image for more information.  To help keep ears and necks warm, add ear bands and a neck warmer.  The neck warmer can be slipped up over the face right up to the goggles.

Everyone should have a pair of goggles.  They keep the sun, wind and snow out of the eyes (which can be a problem for little children) and help with sun safety.

 

HITTING THE SLOPES WITH THE KIDS


Before heading out to the ski hill, make sure all family members are properly dressed and equipped.  Make sure all children wear a helmet.  Consider taking extra turtle necks and putting them in the locker to change at lunch time.  Click on the image to view Travel News about skiing:

Practice sun safety and be aware of concerns for Frost bite and Hypothermia and practice winter safety - see  Winter Safety Tips for more information.

KNOW THE CODE and remind all family members.

Check weather and ski hill conditions and be prepared for changes in the weather.

If kids are skiing on their own make sure they have a buddy and arrange to meet at certain times during the day at one place - consider giving kids a watch with an alarm to remind them when to meet.  Instruct them on which hills they can ski on and which hills to avoid - give them a map.  Teach them to recognize safety patrol and to approach them for assistance.

Pagers are becoming an option for keeping track of children while skiing, ask the resort before booking if these are available.

Consider arranging lessons for children - this allows them to learn proper techniques, meet other children, learn the hills, by-pass longer lines when in a lesson and allows parents to have some free ski time.  You may also want to watch the lesson for a little while.  You might learn something too or at least see what is being taught so you can help after the lesson to re-enforce the instructions.

Warm up on the bunny or beginner hill with children.  

Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water and consider keeping a little snack in your pocket for a little pick me up during the chair ride or at a break.

Take breaks often.  Enjoy the view and watch other skiers too.

Always lower the bar on chair lifts and hold small children at all times on chair lifts.  

Don't mix alcohol/drugs and skiing with your kids.  Set a good example and maintain control when skiing.

Chase the leader and Follow my Tail are just two fun games to play with your children on the ski hill.

Ski Tip Control Devices are available to help young children maintain a wedge ski position.

TIPS FOR INTRODUCING LITTLE ONES TO SKIING

Make sure the Little Ones wear a Helmet.
  1. Be aware of concerns for Frost bite and Hypothermia see Winter Safety Tips for more information.
  2. If you are a confident skier and comfortable on the slopes, young children can be skiing as early as two years of age. Consider looking for a small toboggan hill, strapping on some small plastic skis and enjoying an hour or two on the hill with your little one. This is a cheap way to introduce skiing and you donít need to worry about your equipment.
  3. Start Skiing with a harness Ė This allows for you to hold up your child and even steer with the straps on either side. Hold the straps tightly in your hand when using any ski lift to ensure that straps donít get caught. Harnesses can also add extra support when getting on/off the chair lift and during the ride up.
  4. When using a harness encourage your child to lean forward with their upper body and bend their knees.  Use the harness as a means of slowing their progress down the hill.  
  5. If skiing becomes comfortable with the harness you can lengthen the straps for greater freedom without losing control of the child.
  6. Some people like to use a hula hoop but it can prove awkward on the chair lift. Some people use their polls.
  7. Teach the pizza slice - have children put their ski tips together and spread the backs of their skis (snow plow) to learn how to stop by pushing the backs of the skis out.
  8. Once your child is more comfortable, introduce the idea of going across the hill as a means of slowing down.
  9. Hold on to child at all times on chair lift and always lower the bar. You can place young children over your lap or hold under your arm when disembarking the chair.
  10. On a t-bar or rope tow put young children between your legs and have them loop arms around your legs.
  11. Choose easy hills or beginner hills.
  12. Take lots of breaks and start out with no more than an hour. Keep a little snack handy and even a little drink in your pocket or fanny pack.
  13. If you are using a harness, avoid taking ski polls.
  14. Teach them to KNOW THE CODE and practice it too.
  15. Consider lessons and some Ski Resorts offer programs where parents can participate in the lesson and learn to help teach as well.
  16. Most of All make it FUN and skiing can become a past-time for the entire family.

 

SKI SCHOOL TIPS

When planning a Ski or Winter Vacation, consider lessons as a way for children to meet other children, learn proper skiing techniques and provide parents with time to ski together and on more difficult runs.   Some Programs offer child care with skiing, while others offer programs that parents can join in.

Research the ski program  - Questions to Ask can include:

  1. Are the instructors certified?

  2. What is the ratio of kids to instructors?

  3. How much lesson time is involved and if there is some supervised unstructured ski time?

  4. Are children grouped according to age or age and ability?

  5. Does the program include daycare facilities for children who don't ski or a program of ski lesson and off hill child care?

Before the lesson begins, tell the instructor where you'll be and check in after the first hour if you are not participating in the lesson.  Discuss with the instructor what the procedure is if the child gets too cold or doesn't want to ski anymore - is there a location to meet at the end of the lesson?  What happens if your child's abilities don't match that of the group, are there provisions to change groups?

Children's Ski Instructors are usually trained on how to teach children how to ski.  Talk to them before the lesson, introduce your child to the instructor and then let them do their job.   Your child will learn skiing safety and because ski instructors want to make it fun, maybe the Pizza Slice will replace the Snowplow and French Fries will double for parallel skiing.

Children also need to learn how to fall down and get back up again.

Watch the beginning of the lesson.  Does it look like fun, is the instructor friendly and does your child look comfortable? Is the rest of the group basically of the same ability?

Consider providing a private lesson for your child's first lesson.  This one on one attention, especially for very young children, is a great way to start.

 

SNOWBOARDING TIPS

 

Beginner snowboarders might want to consider renting equipment the first time to ensure that it is something they enjoy.  Lessons will teach proper techniques, safety and the all important - HOW TO FALL AND GET UP AGAIN.   

Some other tips include:

  1. Be aware of concerns for Frost bite and Hypothermia see  Winter Safety Tips for more information.

  2. Wrist Guards can help reduce the incidents of sprained wrists - a common injury among snowboarders.

  3. Never let children Snowboard alone - always with a buddy and a helmet is must.

  4. KNOW THE CODE and practice it.

  5. Ensure equipment is in good condition.

  6. See other skiing tips for more information. 

 

TIPS FOR OTHER WINTER ACTIVITY FUN:

 

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING:

Cross-country skiing is another winter activity that the whole family can enjoy.   Here are some tips for making it fun for everyone.