Abta issues ski and snowboard safety advice

Abta issues ski and snowboard safety advice

Skiers and snowboarders are being urged by Abta to stay safe on the slopes during February school half-term next week.

Tens of thousands of Britons are expected to travel resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy in one of the busiest weeks of the winter season.

Recent tragic incidents have highlighted the need for winter sports holidaymakers to familiarise themselves with safety information, Abta said while issuing guidelines for travellers.

Chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Recent heavy snowfalls have created some fantastic conditions and lots of Brits will be looking forward to a great week of skiing, however they should be aware of the potential risks of such activities.

“Along with following safety advice, purchasing the right level of travel insurance, and checking that annual policies are extended to cover action sports should be a top priority for skiers and snowboarders.”

Abta recommends people:

Wear a helmet

Skiers and snowboarders are reminded about the importance of wearing a helmet on the slopes. There has been increased interest in ski safety – and much higher numbers wearing ski helmets but recent research has shown that a third of people are still skiing without helmets.

Get the right insurance

Almost a third of people taking a ski or snowboarding holiday this year will do so without the right travel insurance putting themselves at risk of high medical bills if they have an accident or get injured on the slopes.

If you are planning to go off-piste or to undertake activities such as heli-skiing, many insurance policies will nor provide cover for risk activities, skiing at certain altitudes, for damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide.

Check weather forecasts and avalanche warnings

There have been a higher than average number of fatalities in the Alps this season with the majority of accidents occurring off-piste due to avalanches. Recent heavy snowfalls in European resorts have created fantastic conditions, however they have built an unstable snow base and the perfect environment for the creation of an avalanche. Many European resorts are displaying high avalanche warnings.

This information is readily available in resort or online and should be consulted regularly as it can change from day to day.

Be aware of off-piste risks

When you go off-piste you leave the controlled area of the mountain, conditions are unknown and help may not be as available. If you go off-piste, exercise extreme caution, always go with an experienced guide and make sure you have the right equipment such as an avalanche transmitter and a shovel. Don’t ski alone, tell others where you are planning to go and have a method of communication such as a mobile phone or tracking device with you and carry some cash.

Abta has an advice section with winter sports tips at www.abta.com/skisafe and has worked with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to produce a winter sports checklist.

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