Tips for keeping kids safe on the snow

Northstar California | Courtesy California Ski Industry Association

Winter sports in Tahoe offer fun-filled days for the whole family. But as in any sport, there are inherent risks in playing in the snow. Once we know the risks, we can practice snow-safety strategies to keep everyone safe.

Ski California has written a Mountain Safety Guide for skiers and snowboarders. Ski California is a brand created by the California Ski Industry Association, a nonprofit organization of 32 ski resorts in California and Nevada, including many Tahoe area downhill and cross-country ski resorts.

The skier and rider responsibility code outlines a code of conduct for safe skier and rider behavior used in safety programs at ski resorts across the United States.

The guidelines in the Mountain Safety Guide are part of its member resorts’ safety programs. Although developed for skiing and snowboarding, these guidelines along with the Skier & Rider Responsibility Code can be applicable to other winter sports like sledding, snowshoeing and general snow play.

The skier and rider responsibility code outlines a code of conduct for safe skier and rider behavior like staying in control, not obstructing trails, staying out of closed areas and looking uphill when entering a trail.

Watch safety videos:
Mountain Safety Guide Video Series
A Mountain Safety Guide with snowboarder Jeremy Jones.

Snow safety tips

Teach kids to be respectful and to use common sense. Explain how their actions affect others and their decisions can either prevent or cause an accident.

Dress your child for safety and fun. Layers of synthetic fabrics are the best choice for winter sports. A quick-drying base layer; insulting and breathable middle layer; waterproof, windproof outer layer; waterproof, insulated gloves and warm, breathable socks will keep him or her warm and dry and will help prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Wear a helmet. It might be the most important piece of equipment. Wearing a helmet will help prevent a major head injury if your child falls or is involved in a collision.

Wear eye protection. At altitude, the atmosphere is thinner than at lower elevations, which magnifies the damaging effects of the sun. Sun exposure at higher elevations can quickly cause burns to the skin and eyes. On the snow, people are exposed to twice the amount of sunlight, directly from the sun and from the sunlight’s reflection off the snow.

Wearing goggles or sunglasses can protect the eyes from damage. The intensity of the sun can be especially damaging to kids’ eyes and anyone with light-colored eyes.

Wear sunscreen. Apply, sunscreen every two hours to exposed skin, including the tops of the ears, the bottom of the chin and the underside of the nose.

Teach kids to read signs. Show your child how to find and read informational and directional signage. Children should know how to read a trail map and learn how to navigate the trail system. Show them signs, flags, ropes and disks posted to mark obstacles, slow zones, lift areas and trail difficulty and direction.

Check equipment. Make sure all components are working properly. If you are not sure how to check your child’s equipment, have a professional check it out. This includes skis, snowboards, bindings, boots, sleds ,snowshoes and helmets. Failing equipment can cause injury.

For the complete Mountain Safety Guide, the Skier & Rider Responsibility Code and other safety topics such as chairlift safety, visit skicalifornia.org.

Michael Reitzell | Courtesy California Ski Industry Association

Ski California Safety Day

January is National Safety Awareness Month and Ski California is hosting the second annual Ski Safety Day on Jan. 25. Tahoe-area ski resorts will be hosting events to highlight and educate the public on mountain safety.

Boreal/Woodward Tahoe | Boreal/Woodward Tahoe will partner with High Fives to offer Woodward tools to help guests personalize their helmet. In addition, the resort will broadcast the “Helmets are Cool” video throughout the in-resort digital displays and on social media.

Diamond Peak | Enjoy live music and educational activities such as Safety Selfies and chances to win raffle prizes. There will be a chance to meet the new Ski Patrol director and patrol dog, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Village Terrain Park and a chance to ride with the Ski Patrol sweep at the end of the day.

Heavenly Mountain Resort | There will be with opportunities to collect raffle tickets and events including Terrain Park Safety clinics at Groove Park, Avalanche Dog demonstrations, Avalanche Beacon Park and Backcountry Preparedness, A Helmet Head photo booth at Stein’s and employees will be at the top of First Ride, Patsy’s and Canyon lifts throughout the day to award raffle tickets to guests who rode with the bar down, didn’t raise it too soon and unloaded the lift safely.

Homewood Mountain Resort | Five interactive stations will be set-up in the resort’s base area from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where Homewood patrollers and ski instructors will give short demonstrations on topics including deep snow and cold weather safety, safe riding distance and chairlift safety. There will also be opportunities to meet Ruckus the avy dog and free helmet rentals all day.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort | There will be candy rewards for Bars for Bars Down on chairs 6 and 9, stickers and candy for those who are SMART stylin’ through the park, and ski patrol will have hot dogs and avalanche dogs at the top of chair 2. Look for beacon basin and airbag demonstration, and banners with the skier responsibility code.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe | Stop by the welcome booth outside the Main Lodge to review Responsibility Code, terrain park and other safety info and enjoy free hot chocolate and coffee. Ski patrol will be at five locations around the mountain discussing safety practices and engaging guests in an On-Mountain Safety Poker Run; pick up cards at the welcome booth. A kids’ fun course at the Galena Spines Terrain Park will offer terrain park safety tips, with an opportunity to meet the patrol dogs at 12:30 p.m.

Northstar California | Guests are invited to open the mountain with patrol on a first-come, first-served basis by pre-registration, and all are welcome to participate in a Northstar Avalanche Rescue Dogs demonstration with live burial at mid-mountain. National Ski Patrol will host a safety scavenger hunt and raffle, and lift operators will give small candy Bars for Bars Down on select lifts. Mountain Safety will hand out resort branded trail map buffs to guests demonstrating safe skiing and riding behavior, and Ski California Safety Day will kick off Northstar’s first day of this year’s Junior Ski Patrol program.

Sierra-at-Tahoe | Watch avalanche dog demonstrations and patrollers will discuss back-country hazards, how to stay safe on off-piste terrain, tree-well and inversion danger and how to use a beacon. Copies of the Ski California’s Mountain Safety Guide will be available, and guests can show their safety guide and enter a raffle for a pair of Dragon Goggles and other prizes between 1 and 3 p.m. on Solstice Plaza. Those who can recite the Skier & Rider Responsibility Code will be entered in a second raffle for a pair of Wells Lamont gloves.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows | Guests are encouraged to visit the Safety Booths at both resorts to learn more about the Ski California Mountain Safety Guide, Responsibility Code and how to Share the Mountain. Prizes will be offered for correct answers, and those who take selfies with their helmet on. A meet and greet with the Squaw and Alpine patrol dogs is also scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m.

Sugar Bowl Resort | The resort will encourage guests to take selfies with the Ski California Mountain Safety guide in scavenger hunt style at specific spots around the mountain for a random drawing for a $250 gift card. Sugar Bowl will also host a poster contest for kids ages 12 and younger for kids participating in Sugar Bowl’s ski school programs.

Tahoe Donner Downhill | The Ski California’s Mountain Safety Guide will be available, and employees will discuss the skier and rider responsibility code. There resort is emphasizing new chairlift safety with new signage on lift towers and safety demonstrations and education.