Keeping Kids Safe on the Slopes

Keeping Kids Safe on the Slopes

Annie Davis

By Annie Davis \ March 11 2024

With the increase in pass options, increased exposure to snow sports, and a general rise in the number of skier days across the country (on average), I wanted to focus on how to keep kids safe on the slopes.

Kids are smaller in size, have different skiing and riding abilities, generally aren’t as situationally aware as adults, and can be harder to notice – or avoid – on the mountain. Having taught my two young kids to ski and spending most of my ski days with them over the past seven seasons, here are some tips and tricks I use to help maximize their safety on the slopes.

Helmets are a must.
When I learned how to ski and snowboard in the nineteen hundreds (I’m so dramatic), it seemed no one was wearing helmets. Times have changed, and head protection is ubiquitous now. Helmets are relatively low-cost (if you compare that to significant medical bills if one sustains a brain injury) and a simple way to help prevent significant injury. If your kid(s) are into it, I believe the brighter the helmet, the better.  

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Color is king
Speaking of bright helmets, colorful ski outfits can help others on the mountain spot them more easily. I’m not saying every kid needs to look like a rainbow unicorn (even though that would be awesome), but a bright-colored or interesting patterned jacket or pants can make a big difference.

Soften the fall.
If your kids are in the learning phase of their skiing or boarding journey, or they like to charge hard and are prone to falls and crashes, sending them on the slopes with padding could make for a safer, better experience for them. Knee pads, wrist guards, padded shorts, and back/chest guards are common and can be found at most major retailers and ski/board shops. Although not necessary, some families find this extremely helpful. 

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Get ski patrol numbers programmed.
Even with a husband who is a ski patroller, I don’t know off the top of my head what the ski patrol phone number(s) are. If your kids carry any smartphone or smartwatch, I recommend programming at least one ski patrol number onto their device, especially if you unleash them to ski without you. The first place to look for the resort’s ski patrol number is on the lift ticket or season pass. If not, you can always check the resort website, and ski patrol numbers should be listed on their “Contact Us” page. 

Know where to meet up
If you have kids old enough to ski alone, establish a location and time to meet. With or without cell phones, this can be a good practice to make sure everyone has several touch points throughout the day, know that everyone is safe, and could be good break times to warm up and recharge. 

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Safety caboose.
When I ski with my three-year-old, who is now confident enough to ski on his own and be the “leader,” I always ski behind him. Being the “caboose” ensures that I can always see him and be the buffer to prevent any out-of-control skiers or boarders from hitting him. If you want additional support, I suggest having an adult ski in front (so the kid has someone to watch and follow) and an adult to ski behind.  

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Know the code. 
Whether a kid or an adult, everyone on the slope must know the code. As a skier or snowboarder, you must understand this code to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.  

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