Kids need guidance, whether youíre talking to toddlers about sharing or to teens about personal responsibility.
At every stage of our childrenís lives, certain topics demand discussion and edu-cation.
Skiing and snowboarding safety is one of them.
Do Your Kids Know the Code?
In the U.S., skiing and snowboarding safety is covered by a seven-point Responsibility Code (similar to the FIS Rules included below).
The Code is printed everywhere ó on ski resort maps, on signs on chairlift poles and in the lift lines, on ski and ride school brochures and so on ó yet for as many times as we saw the Code, we didnít take the time to discuss the Code with our sons until the oldest was in a ski accident at age 11.
Until then, we wrongly assumed that he had picked up the rules for safe skiing from his coaches, instructors and from us, his parents.
We were wrong.
While he didnít mean to be unsafe, he didnít understand how to stay safe and keep others safe on the mountain.
So from that moment forward, we hammered home the finer points of skiing eti-quette and safety to both boys.
FIS Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders
FIS has a list of ten rules governing skiing and snowboarding safety international-ly.
These rules are a perfect place to start a family discussion, paraphrasing and explaining to make sure even your youngest riders can understand.
1. Respect for others - A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others.
2. Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding - A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snow-boarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.
3. Choice of route - A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.
4. Overtaking - A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snow-boarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
5. Entering, starting and moving upwards - A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.
6. Stopping on the piste - Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move clear of the piste as soon as possible.
7. Climbing and descending on foot - A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the piste.
8. Respect for signs and markings - A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.
9. Assistance - At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.
10. Identification - Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a respon-sible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.
Tips for Teaching Skiing and Snowboarding Safety to Your Children
Apply the Rules: Reading the rules or code with your kids isnít enough. Instead, explain and discuss specific situations together, for example what to do when crossing another run.
Then, when youíre skiing and riding together, talk about specific situations on the chairlift and ask your kids what they will do.
Let Your Children Lead: While weíve all seen children skiing behind their par-ents and instructors, this isnít the best way to teach skiing and snowboarding safety to kids.
When children follow an adult, they arenít very aware of their position on a piste or in relation to others. Putting them in front gives them the responsibility to ski and snowboard safely. Leading teaches them to stop at trail intersections and wait for others. It teaches them to look uphill before entering a trail, and so on.
You can keep an eye on the skiing situation from behind and if something troubles you, you can quickly intervene.
Respect All Signs, Ropes and the Ski Patrol: Reinforce that trail markers and professional patrollers keep everyone safe according to the conditions on any given day.
If applicable, discuss avalanche control, snow safety and changing weather. You donít have to get overly technical, but giving your children a basic understanding of why rules exist and why ropes or signs can limit access to a favorite run helps them respect the rules.
Model Safe Behavior: Just as parents are responsible for talking with their kids about skiing and snowboarding safety, they also are responsible for modeling safe behavior. This includes wearing helmets, applying sunscreen and following ski and snowboard safety rules.
Kids are smart. If they see you breaking a rule that youíre trying to teach them, theyíll let you know.
Encourage your children to ask questions and point out inconsistencies in your behavior. Congratulate them for catching you making a safety mistake and com-mit to doing better.
By giving everyone in the family a stake in skiing and snowboarding safety, eve-ryone in the family will become more safe, responsible and skilled riders.
FIS SnowKidz has downloadable posters and pocket flyers covering the Ten Rules of Conduct. We recommend using them to begin your family safety discussion. Hit the link below to download them.
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com