Perhaps you look forward to winter all year-round in anticipation of ski season and are excited to finally share that feeling with your child. Or perhaps you are a tourist heading to Colorado for the first time and you want your child to have a great experience. Either way, skiing and snowboarding are great ways to enjoy the cold weather, stay fit and get you and your family outside. As you plan for your child’s first foray onto the slopes, keep these safety tips in mind:
- The right gear. Whether you buy or rent equipment is a personal decision, but condition and fit are important.Helmets are highly recommended for all skiers and snowboarders, but are especially important for children. If you don’t know how to properly fit your child’s helmet, ask someone who does. Don’t forget sun protection, including goggles or sunglasses.
- Lessons. Unless you are an expert yourself, you should consider lessons for your child. The instructors know how to teach children the safe and correct way to get started, and will help them progress at their own pace through different skills. In a class, your kid can focus on the lesson rather than focusing on you.
- Layered clothing. In the Colorado mountains, the temperature fluctuates and weather can change quickly. Layers can be helpful as your child’s body temperature changes throughout the day. The most important layer is the one next to their skin. Try polypropylene undergarments. Outer layers need to be waterproof and windproof. If your child’s hands get cold easily, go for mittens over gloves. Encourage your child to take breaks to warm up when they get cold, especially if their base layer has gotten wet.
- Preparation. In case your child gets lost or separated from you, put your name and phone number, as well as your hotel’s name and phone number (if applicable), on a piece of paper in your child’s pocket. Choose a meeting place for emergencies. If your child is injured or tired out, tell them it’s okay to take a break or even stop for the day. Pushing past this point may increase the risk of an accident, or just take the fun out of the day.
- The Responsibility Code. The National Ski Areas Association encourages all skiers to follow a Responsibility Code when on the slopes to provide a safe environment for everyone. Many of these points are common sense, but still important to prevent accidents. Key points include staying in control, knowing when to yield the right-of-way to other skiers, moving on and off the trail safely, merging and stopping safely and knowing how to properly use a lift before climbing on board.
Introducing your child to the slopes can be a fun and rewarding experience. Be sure you also make it a safe one.