Skiing can be a lot of fun for the kids but there are considerations, especially with equipment and safety rules. Let’s start with equipment:
- Helmets are mandatory. Ensure the helmet fits properly and remind your children that wearing a helmet means they still have to ski responsibly.
- Make sure you fit your children with ski safety equipment. Helmets are only the beginning. Protective equipment also includes; hats, headbands, gloves, goggles with built-in sunglasses, hand warmers and boot warmers too. Hand and foot warmers are necessary because they protect children from frostbite.
- When you dress your child in layers you can always add or subtract depending on the weather. Be sure your children wear sun protection (sun block), even on cloudy days. The sun reflects off the snow and UV rays do not respect a cloud cover, especially in late winter. You can actually get sunburned on a ski vacation.
- Remember to buy or rent skis for your children that are appropriate for their skiing ability. Generally, the larger a ski is, the faster it goes and the harder it is to control. Have your children’s skis fitted and tuned by a trained professional at a ski shop. Remember, safety is always the number one priority.
- The only person who should adjust your children’s ski bindings is a trained professional at a ski shop. It is critical for bindings to be able to release in the event of a fall to prevent leg injuries. On the other hand, bindings that release too easily can cause falls.
- You need to get your children boots that fit properly and keep their feet comfortable and warm. They must provide optimal control over their skis. Boots should always be buckled up snugly to give feet and ankles the proper support.
- Poles should always be the correct length and have looped straps that go around the wrists. To check if poles are the correct length, turn one upside down and have your child hold it by the tip, with a hand resting on the basket. The child’s elbow should be at a right angle with the handle of the pole touching the ground.
Ski Trails Rules and Etiquette:
If you have a child that is a beginner put them in ski school so they get it right from day one. Children’s instructors understand how to teach kids, they are professionals at it.
Make sure your children understand the rules and follow them. Insist that your children understand not to go past the ski area boundary or ski into a closed area. These areas are off-limits for a reason and they are not patrolled by the ski patrol. Those areas could be hazardous and the risk is not worth the adventure. Remind them to pay close attention and to obey any warning signs they might see.
Always ski with a friend. Any child can take a bad fall and possibly become unable to continue skiing. If the child is alone this could become an extremely serious issue, even if they have a cell phone. By skiing together each child can look out for each other and if necessary summon the ski patrol. Make sure at least one child has a cell phone with them and absolutely make sure they have an emergency number to call in their phonebook. Also put contact information in a secure zippered pocket inside their jacket.
Teach your children to practice skier etiquette:
- Skiers in front of them or below them on the trail have the right of way.
- Never stop in the middle of a trail or anywhere where they can’t be seen from above, such as below a dropoff.
- Look uphill to make sure no one is coming toward them before they start down a trail or merge onto a new trail.
- If they’re passing another skier on a catwalk or narrow trail, have them call out “On your right” or “On your left” to let people know they’re approaching.
Make sure your children are aware of and honest about their skiing ability. If they are beginners, have them stick to the beginner slopes until they are capable of moving up to something steeper. Most ski trails are clearly marked as green circles (beginner terrain), blue squares (intermediate terrain), or black diamonds (advanced terrain). If a trail says it’s for experts only, believe the sign, they are serious. Children also need to understand that it is OK to stop when they get tired.
Make sure your children understand the importance and value of taking breaks. The probability of injury increases when a child is over-tired. Also, make sure you provide them with healthy snacks and water. Skiing is a physical activity and they will need to replenish energy and stay hydrated.
Frostbite is always a potential danger with outdoor wintertime activities. Download this outstanding guide on Frostbite from Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus Ohio.
To learn more about skiing safety please click the “Video” tab at the top of the page.