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Skiers, snowboarders: Remember safety tips on slopes

Posted: December 13, 2009 11:54 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2009 11:53 p.m.
Snow Safety
Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes - downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, even toboggans and inner tubes - there's an element of risk. These practical and safety tips from the National Ski Areas Association may help you avoid potentially painful problems.

Before You Leave Home
Get in shape. Don't try to ski/board yourself into shape. You'll enjoy skiing and boarding more if you're physically fit.

Obtain proper equipment. Be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop. You can rent good ski or snowboard equipment at most resorts.

When buying skiwear, choose a fabric that's water- and wind-resistant. You want wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and keep wind out. Be sure to buy quality clothing and products that won't fall apart when you need them most.

En Route to the Slopes
Take tire chains; you won't get past the snowline without them. Drive carefully; the roads are still being cleared of debris from the most recent storms.

Once you make it safely to your favorite mountain resort, be friendly, clean up and pack out your own trash, and represent our community well, too.

On the Slopes
Be prepared. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature and changes in the weather. Try polypropylene thermal underwear tops and bottoms, which feel good next to the skin, absorb sweat, dry quickly and keep you warm. Over the thermals, wear a turtleneck, sweater, neck scarf and jacket.

Wear a headband, beanie, cap or hat: 60 percent of body-heat loss is through the head. Wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for those susceptible to numb fingertips).

Use sunscreen or sun block. The ultraviolet rays reflecting off the white snow are stronger than you think, even on cloudy days.
Wear eye protection (sunglasses and/or goggles). Snow sports are lots more fun when you can see.

Don't think you're too cool to take a lesson. Like anything, you'll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The fastest and best way to become a good skier or boarder is to learn from a qualified instructor.

Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly and in control. Control is the key to successful skiing/boarding. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/boarders around you.

Skiing and snowboarding require a mental and physical awareness. Be very aware of the snow conditions and how quickly they can change. For instance, as conditions turn firm, the snow gets hard and fast.

Play it straight on the slopes. Skiing and boarding don't mix well with alcohol or drugs.

The all-important warm-up run prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead.

Begin a run slowly. If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side-step down the slope.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Be careful not to become dehydrated.

Have fun, but know your limits. Stop exerting yourself before you become fatigued.

Take a break. Catch your breath. There's always the next lift.

Follow the "Your Responsibility Code," the seven safety rules of the slopes:
1) Always stay in control.
2) People ahead of you have the right-of-way.
3) Stop in a place that's safe for you and others.
4) When starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5) Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6) Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7) Know how to use the lifts safely.


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