9 Safety Tips for Skiing, Snowboarding, and Sledding

Being reckless outside hurts. Before you strap on those boots or drag out that sled, know these safety measures.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Chairlifts, helmets, skis, and poles are all part of the fun. Though rare, serious injury can result from equipment misuse.

Today, many ski resorts provide safety videos and FAQs on their websites. It's a good idea to review this information with your family at the beginning of each season—especially if the resort and its trails are new to you.

1. Wear equipment that fits. Don't put your child into boots or skis that are too large for him thinking, "he'll grow into it." Gear that isn't properly sized is difficult to control. Ask a ski shop for help with proper fit.

2. Dress for warmth. Whether you wear traditional layers (avoid cotton; wool or fleece is better) or opt for newer fabrics that provide warmth without the bulk, it's important to keep your body insulated. A warm body expends less energy heating itself, leaving more energy for athletic pursuits. You'll also be in less danger of frostbite should you find yourself stuck on a lift.

3. Protect your head with a helmet. Both kids and adults should wear a proper-fitting helmet to reduce the chance of a serious head injury. Goggles that attach to your helmet will provide good eye protection and help you see more clearly in windy conditions.

4. Be safe on the ride up the mountain. Chairlifts can be intimidating for first-timers or inexperienced skiers and snowboarders. If your child has never experienced a chair lift, do some observing first. Take her to the lift line and watch how the others line up and load the chairlift, explaining the process. Stress that the lift attendant is there to help and your child should ask for assistance if needed.

Adults should ride in the center of a three-person lift or the inside of the chair in a two-person lift. Explain that it's okay to let an empty chair pass if you aren't ready to load the lift. Once on the lift, instruct your child to sit as far back as possible—back to back—and never to rest on the restraint bar. En route, it's important to remain seated being careful not to drop hats, gloves, a ski or poles. Be mindful of the footrest. Far too many skiers accidentally jar a ski from its boot when being careless. Proper foot placement is important. Point out the signs that instruct you when it's time to unload. Gently raise the restraining bar and check for loose clothing, turn off phones and music and keep ski tips up. Stand up as the flat unloading platform begins to ramp downward. Ski down the ramp and away from the chair and other skiers. If you've dropped something on the way up, notify the attendant.

5. Take a lesson. It's important to know how to slow down and stop in the middle of a run. A good instructor will also show you proper technique, which will maximize your enjoyment.


Although more commonly thought of as a winter pastime than a true sport, sledding can hold the same dangers as skiing and boarding. After all, you're shooting down a slick slope, only this time without the benefit of braking techniques! Here's what to do before heading to the nearest neighborhood hill:

6. Assess your sled. Choose a sturdy one with handholds. Forget homemade contraptions such as pool rafts, garbage bags, and trash can lids. They offer little control.

7. Put on gloves or mittens and boots. This is not just for warmth, but experts say they will help protect your extremities should you crash.

8. Use a helmet. This idea hasn't quite caught on the way it has at ski slopes, but doctors say helmet use while sledding can help prevent serious head injuries.

9. Make sure the slope is smooth. Some kids like to enhance their sledding experience by building snow "ramps" or careening over snow-covered rocks and other objects. This is a recipe for injury.


KidsHealth. "Winter Sports: Sledding, Skiing, Snowboarding, Skating." Last modified 3
December 2013. http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/winter_sports.html#cat116