International Travel Experts Give Their Advice For Safety On The Slopes
International travel experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell give their top tips for a safe holiday on the slopes this Christmas season.
Around 3.5 million people will head abroad for the Christmas and New Year period to take a winter break or skiing holiday, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.
With the skiing season in full swing, Irwin Mitchell’s Safety on the Slopes campaign reinforces the importance of having the correct training and gear before you head down the slope, especially if you’re a novice.
Expert international travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have worked on behalf of numerous clients who have been involved in skiing incidents. Demetrius Danas, Partner and international personal injury expert, said:
“On holiday, we’re more likely to try extreme sports and sometimes sport is the object of our trips, such as a skiing holiday. While skiing is great fun for all the family, accidents are likely in such a sport and can be very serious.
“We have represented many holiday-goers who have suffered life-changing injuries after a skiing accident and have had to take substantial time off work, which can affect their finances and quality of life. We provide them with legal advice and support through their rehabilitation but many of these injuries could and should have been avoided.
“While with some of these extreme holiday sports we can accept a degree of risk, sometimes an injury is the result of negligence by a third party, such as an instructor, another skier, a ski lift operator, or a resort/hotel.
“It’s important to raise awareness of the dangers to alpine sports and to be prepared to prevent such accidents happening.” Demetrius Danas - Partner
Irwin Mitchell’s top tips for safe winter sports are as follows:
1. Avoid ill-fitting skiwear
When hiring ski equipment, it is important to check that it fits properly and is in good condition. Damaged or ill-fitting equipment will not give you the same protection as good fitting gear. It is also important to ensure that your ski-wear has the correct level of insulation and protects you from the extreme weather conditions that you can encounter on the slopes.
2. Chair etiquette
An attendant is often on hand to oversee skiers getting on and off the ski lift, but it is important to make sure you take control of your own safety. Always ensure that the bar is completely lowered and keep your skis out of the way of the mechanism while riding.
3. Check For Visibility
Fog or snowfall can, without warning, make it extremely difficult to see ahead of you. If visibility is poor consider whether it is safe to continue skiing. Trees, sudden drops and other skiers all pose significant threats if you are on a slope in bad weather, however familiar you may be with it.
4. Don’t overexert
If you are new to skiing, you may not be aware how physically tiring it can be. Lessen your susceptibility to common aches and strains by getting into a regular fitness regime before your trip and eating a high-protein diet for energy.
5. Keep control
Skiing at high speed can increase the likelihood of an accident. Always ski at a safe speed for you and those around you, and check whether any of the slopes in the resort have a speed limit.
6. Travel with a partner – off-piste
Always consider skiing with another person. Skiing alone makes it incredibly difficult to raise an alarm should you get into any sort of difficulty.
7. Look for icy patches on the slopes
When the snow compacts, icy patches can easily form on slopes, creating a much higher falling hazard. Pay attention to weather warnings and consider avoiding icy slopes if you are not confident skiing on ice.
8. Beware of unmarked trails
If you choose to ski on an unmarked trail, you are putting yourself in danger of becoming lost or injured in an unexpected avalanche or fall. Safe routes are marked for a reason and your insurer may not cover you if an accident takes place out of resort boundaries.
9. Obtain adequate insurance
Make sure to book travel insurance with extra winter sports cover. Due to the nature of skiing holidays, you’re more likely to have an accident because of the extreme sporting conditions. Depending on policies, this insurance can also cover you for any damage to your skiing gear.
10. Sufficient training
If this winter is your first time on the slopes, make sure to book some skiing lessons in before you head down the slopes to minimise the likelihood of an accident. If you haven’t been skiing for a long period of time, it’s also worth getting refresher lessons so you’re as comfortable as possible on the slopes.
Irwin Mitchell’s Safety on the Slopes campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks involved in winter sports and how to prevent these for a safe winter holiday. You can explore the hazards both on and off-piste with their interactive game here.
If you or a loved one has suffered an accident while abroad, our accident and illness abroad claims team could help you to secure compensation. See our Skiing Injuries Abroad Claims page for more information.