Safety On The Slopes

It wasn’t a perfect day for skiing. The temperature hung around freezing and parts of the lower part of the mountain had begun to wear patches of mud and grass, a reminder of the fact that it was warming up in Utah and spring was right around the corner. My 12- and 10-year-old daughters both knew there weren’t many trails open, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from their extreme excitement.

We paused briefly for a photo at the top of the mountain and then we were off, feeling the snow beneath our skis, the fresh air on our faces and loving every minute of being together. 

At the end of this all-too-brief run, our lift rides gave us a chance to compare notes and talk about our technique. My husband and daughters couldn’t stop grinning and neither could I. 

My 10-year-old daughter said, “Mom, put your skis closer together and you’ll go faster. You’re so slow!”  

Easy kid. This is my “in control comfort zone.” Without question, the highlights of our week are always our days on the mountains, enjoying the snow, the speed, the scenery and the fun of sharing an activity we all love. 

I love to watch the snow-covered pine trees slide right past me. It is then when I realize that it was all worth it. It was completely worth all of the effort of getting all of our ski stuff organized, packing the bags and enduring the strain of travel. Family ski vacations are like that. It takes a bit of planning, but I always find they pay off in these wonderful moments of sincere family joy. 

Bonding with your family through skiing is always a really good plan. Few other sports combine the spectacular scenery with the chance to rocket down a mountain at speeds at more than 40 mph as the wind whistles through your helmet (a key part of your ski equipment) as you go. But – as with all sports – skiing can be RISKY. 

This is a sport that demands to be taken seriously if accidents are to be avoided. Ski safety is probably one of the things that kids hear about the least, but need to be reminded of the most. As a ski mom, I used to feel like I spent all my energy on the hill telling kids to “Slow down,” “Watch out” and “Be careful.” After all, I had to keep them safe, right? Wrong. I was going about things completely wrong. 

Instead of teaching my kids how to be safe and why they need to ski a certain way, I was just protecting them in the moment. Kids need to understand ski safety before they ever hit the slopes. We want to keep them safe, but we also want to keep other people safe on the hill too. Here are a few tips for kids to know before getting on a ski hill. 

1. Always wear a helmet. It might help your kids want to wear their helmets if you let them pick out their favorites.

2. Practice getting up safely after falling. While falling down is a given for kids learning how to ski, it is important they know to point their skis across the hill so that don’t continue sliding. 

3. Stay together while skiing.

4. Set a meeting place in case you become separated. It is also very helpful to take a photo of your child in the beginning of the day in case you are separated and need the help of others to find them.

5. Follow all posted signs and know who has the right-of-way. Talk to your kids about why those rules exist and the consequences for breaking them. 

Unfortunately, ski accidents do happen and they can be costly. Some of the most common ski injuries are knee sprains, fractures, broken legs, and even cranial injuries. Health insurance will provide financial protection in case you have a serious accident or illness. A hospital indemnity insurance plan can be particularly helpful because the majority of Americans don’t have enough money to cover unplanned medical bills. 

The payments from a hospital indemnity plan may be used for any purpose, including medical copays. Monthly cost will depend on the plan and your age, gender, and possibly tobacco use. I would advise contacting your insurance agent to find out more about this product before your trip. There is a certain peace that comes with knowing you are properly prepared and financially protected from the unexpected.

Over the years my family has taken numerous vacations to different ski resorts, and every time we have found a similar sense of connection. In just a few short weeks, my kids will be out of school, the temperatures will be rising and my family will be headed back to Park City, Utah where the snow will be soft and creamy. 

I have truly enjoyed celebrating the approach of spring with this little heart-to-heart article about my favorite spring break activity. Whatever it is that you are doing with your family this spring break, I hope safety is a top priority and it is the best trip you have ever had.