Snow Safety & Education
Winter activities, such as skiing and snowboarding have increased in popularity. The Snow Safety & Education presentation is intended to foster awareness of the risks associated with these activities for children, to make sure they have the safest, and most enjoyable experience possible while outdoors.
The Snow Safety & Education Program can be delivered by any interested adult—including parents, teachers, and guide or scout leaders—using the Presenting Snow Safety & Education guide. Alternatively, when available, trained AdventureSmart presenters are able to present the program to groups. Visit our Request a Presentation page to submit your request.
Snow Safety & Education is available free of charge, and presentations can be adapted to fit with the age of the audience and to the amount of time allocated to the presentation, as long as the key messaging of AdventureSmart: Trip Planning, Training, and Taking the Essentials (commonly referred to as the 3 T’s) is covered.
Before you hit the slopes, think about trip planning! Trip planning will be different depending on if you are skiing or snowboarding, and whether you are on a school trip, or a vacation with family or friends, but it is just as important! Trip planning means planning your route, knowing the terrain and conditions, checking the weather, and leaving a written trip plan with a teacher, family member, or friend.
A good rule of thumb for trip plans is that they answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how about the trip.
To properly answer these questions when planning your next skiing or boarding adventure, consider these details:
Before you get to the hill, a good place to start planning your day is the ski hill’s website. Look at their online trail map, see what routes and lifts will be open, pick out the runs that are fitting to yours and your groups abilities, making sure the lifts you’ll need to get there are open.
Once you get to the hill, pick up a trail map brochure so you can navigate your way around.
Do you know what the ski hill symbols mean? See below, and play Ski Hill Signage Sudoku.
The terrain, conditions and weather
Ski hill terrain and conditions can change quickly, and may even be different from the top of the hill to the bottom, and from one day to the next. Remember that the higher you go, the greater the chance is of snowy and wet conditions, and cooler temperatures.
Heavy snow, freezing rain, and warm weather can all impact the conditions of the hill, and poor terrain, hazardous conditions or extreme weather can close ski runs. If a run is closed, use your trail map, and determine an alternate route—it is important to obey the signs and stay away from closed sections.
Possible hazards on the hill
Skiers and snowboarders can face hazards such as trees, exposed rocks or tree roots, tree wells, and depending on the area, there can also be a risk of avalanches. Know before you go, and learn about the signs that identify these hazards.
The risks of going out of bounds
Going off marked trails and hills is dangerous. These areas have no patrol, no avalanche control, no grooming, and no warning signs. Stay in bounds to stay safe.
The importance of a buddy
While trip planning, choose friend who you will ski or board with. Together, you can share in these fun winter activities, and help keep each other safe. If you and your friends have different skiing or boarding abilities, choose a meeting space and regular times to meet after runs or at a specific time, especially at the end of the day.
Being prepared by getting the proper training is key to having an enjoyable time while skiing or boarding. Learning the Alpine Responsibility, and taking an activity-specific course such as a ski or snowboard lesson, are useful training opportunities.
The Alpine Responsibility Code
- People ahead of you have the right of way
- Do not stop where you are not visible from above
- Before starting downhill, or merging, look uphill and yield to others
- If you’re involved in, or witness a collision, you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol
- Always use proper devices to help prevent runaway equipment
- Observe and obey all posted signs/warnings
- Keep off closed trails and other areas
- Do not use lifts/terrain if your ability and judgment is impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Know how to safely load, ride, and unload lifts
Are you prepared for Tree Wells?
What is a tree well?
A tree well is an area under low-hanging tree branches that is sheltered from snow. The branches stop snow from compacting below, leaving a dangerous hole that skiers and snowboarders can fall into.
How can I protect myself from tree wells?
- To protect yourself from tree wells, steer clear of areas near tree trunks, close to low hanging branches.
- You decrease your chance of harm if you ski or board with someone else: they can help get you out, or get help if needed.
How do I get myself out of a tree well?
- Stay calm; don’t panic
- Keep breathing
- Turn around slowly so you are facing upwards
- Grab hold of the tree trunk or branches and begin pulling yourself up.
Taking the Esentials
When skiing or boarding, essential equipment is needed. Most hills require youth to wear a helmet, and you will want warm clothing such as gloves, socks, and a hat to stay warm.
When skiing or snowboarding, remember:
- To dress in layers that will keep you comfortable in both warmer, and cooler temperatures;
- To wear a helmet specific for skiing or snowboarding that will help keep your head warm, and protect you from impact if you fall;
- To wear goggles that protect your eyes from the sun, glare off the snow, and strong winds, and keep your face warm;
- To have warm gloves, warm socks, and a hat that is comfortable under your helmet, and to bring extras of each in case they rip, get wet, or are misplaced;
- To carry a whistle so you can alert others, should you become lost or be in distress.
Visit our Winter page for more activity-specific information.
Snow Safety Video: “A Little Respect—think first”
View the video “A Little Respect—think first” to learn about the Alpine Responsibility Code, as well as general tips for safe skiing and snowboarding.
Download the video (253 MB).
Contact us to request the Snow Safety & Education program at
your school or community group.
Would you like to present the Snow Safety & Education program material to a group yourself? Vist the Presenting Snow Safety & Education program page to find out how.
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