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Top Safety Tips for Skiing with Children

Skiing with children can create some incredible memories.  However alpine holidays do not come without their challenges and many parents feel anxious about their children on the slopes.  Follow our guide below to see what you can do to keep your children as safe as possible when on a skiing or snowboarding holiday.

Discuss Piste Safety with your children.  

If children are old enough to learn to ski, they are old enough to start learning the rules of the pistes. Instilling piste safety rules from a young age will help to create good habits for life. Teaching children to check that the coast is clear before setting off is no different to teaching them to check for on coming traffic before crossing a road. However, do bear in mind that younger children may not have the ability to anticipate situations. This is where the parent or caregiver has an important role in helping to be their eyes and ears on the slopes. 

If you are not sure how to approach piste safety with children, or even what the rules are yourself, then we have plenty of resources available on our website. Have a read of our blog on ‘how to teach children about piste safety’.

Have your children watch our brand new animated piste safety video:

Monty’s Mountain Adventure – stay safe on the pistes

Take our quiz (which is suitable for all ages) with your children. If you pass, you will awarded with a free downloadable certificate.

Quiz Piste X Code

Ski / Snowboard Gear

Having the correct clothing and equipment on the mountain not only keeps children more comfortable and therefore happier but is essential for their safety.

  • A well fitted helmet for children is essential. If a helmet has dents in it, it is unlikely to be fit for purpose. 
  • Choose goggles that are the right size and fit the helmet well. Sunglasses can be worn instead, but goggles help you see better if it rains or snows and they keep your face warmer.  
  • Dress your children in bright colours so that they stand out and can easily be seen, by both yourself and others.  
  • Dress your children in layers that you can modify according to the temperatures.  Invest in quality ski jackets and pants that are insulated, waterproof, and windproof. Don’t compromise on warmth or protection.  Weather can change rapidly in the mountains.
  • Mittens usually keep little hands warmer than gloves.  Having a spare pair of gloves is always a good idea. Make sure you hang gloves out to dry overnight.
  • One pair of good quality ski socks is fine.  Dont layer socks. This can take up space in ski boots and restrict circulation.  
  • Do not tuck thermal trousers or leggings into ski boots as this will be extremely uncomfortable.    
  • A neck buff is an essential piece of kit in may opinion. This is a looped scarf which you pull on over your head and round your neck.  They can be pulled up to keep your face warm, which is especially helpful on long cold chairlifts.  
  • Skis, boots and poles must be fitted by a trained professional. Know your child’s height and weight and do not underestimate or overestimate their ability when you are having skis fitted. DIN settings (the settings on the bindings which are adjusted to allow the ski to release in case of a fall) on ski’s must be specific to each individual.  You do not want the binding to release too easily when they are skiing or to not release at all when they fall.  Having boots that are too big or are not done up properly can affect overall stability and therefore safety so please do follow the advice of the professionals. 
  • Whilst not essential, back protectors come highly recommended.  If you have little snowboarders, consider padded shorts and wrist guards too. 

Preparation

Put your phone number in your childs pocket, ideally laminated or in a plastic cover so it survives in case of dampness.  If they become separated from the group, they will be able to ask another adult to call you.

Have a contingency plan.  Discuss with your child what they would do if they became separated from your group or their ski school group.  Tell your child that this is very unlikely to happen but if it does, not to panic and that there will always be people around to help them.

If they are skiing with you and they are old enough, set a meeting place to head to if you become separated.  This meeting point may change throughout the day, as you travel around the mountains.  When you are at the top of a ski run, point out a meeting place further down so that you can all come together at regular intervals.  

If the child is old enough and they are confident skiers, suggest that they ski to the nearest chair lift and tell the lift operator that they are lost. The lift operators will have a protocol of what to do if they come across a lost child.  

Book lessons well in advance of your trip.  Instructors are extremely busy over the holiday periods therefore to guarantee availability book as far ahead as you can.  Children (and adults) of all ages and abilities hugely benefit from ski and snowboard lessons.  

Consider a tracker.  There are various ones available on the market, however an airtag, tile or equivalent is any easy way to track your children without needing to take out a subscription. Ensure that you place these in a different pocket to their lift pass.   Living in the mountains, we use a Weenect tracker, which not only has a GPS tracker but also has an emergency call button which a child can use in case of emergency.  If your child has a smart watch or a phone, ensure that these have an option to track location. 

Discuss chairlift safety. Lifts can be one of the trickiest parts for children that are learning to ski and snowboard.  When you are queuing for the lift, place your children to the side next to the lift operator, with you next to them.  A lift operator should slow the chair lift and assist children on.  

Make sure that your child knows to sit back on the chairlift and if available, the safety bar should be in-between their legs.  Encourage your child to sit still.  Distract them with a game of eye spy if necessary.  Chairlift rides are also a good opportunity to talk to your child about piste safety and point out out potential hazards or things that skiers and snowboarders are doing well below you.  

Whilst on a chairlift, ensure that your child does not bang their skis together.  This could cause the ski binding to release and the ski to fall. Should a child loose a ski, you will have the challenge of retrieving it.  If you are above a piste it could cause serious harm to people below.  

Skill Level

Know which slopes are right for you and your child’s skill level and ski only on those pistes. If you are not sure, discuss this with your child’s ski instructor and ask for recommendations.  

Do not encourage your child to do slopes above their skill level.  This is dangerous for both the child and for other slope users.  I hate nothing more than hearing parents bragging about their child skiing a black run after only a few days on the pistes.  There is no way that an inexperienced child would be able to do this safely and in control.  At best, it will scare the child and at worse there could be catastrophic injuries! Ski instructors also find this frustrating, as taking children on slopes which are beyond their level can undo all the technical skills that they have been learning. 

If you feel that your child is ready to progress beyond the runs that they are confident on, consider booking a private ski lesson and allow an instructor to guide this progression.  

Additional Safety Tips

Don’t push them when they are tired and consider other mountain activities as part of your holiday such as sledging, ice skating and swimming.  Check the tourist office for a list of events during your stay.  Tiredness leads to tears and frustration for all involved. 

Be sure they wear sun protection, even on cloudy days. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think!

Pop snacks and hot chocolate money in your child’s pocket. A quick snack can often help avoid melt downs and when children are working hard in the mountains they are much more likely to be ‘hangry’ than in day to day life. Keep your children hydrated.  It is very easy not to drink enough when you are out in the cold, but the high altitude and dry mountain air can quickly lead to dehydration.  

Hot Chocolate break

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