Be prepared for snow conditions and getting the kids ready for a day spent outside are essential to ensuring that everyone has a fun time in Tahoe.
Use Common Sense | 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.
Set the tone | Get children excited about skiing and snowboarding. Show them photos or videos of yourself or other people participating in snow sports. If you ski or ride, tell them what you enjoy about it. Kids of any age can have a hard time getting motivated but if you are excited, they might be, too. But be careful not to oversell it or your kid might go into stimulation overload and lose interest.
Pick the right conditions | Avoid taking them during bad weather, especially if they are new to snow sports. If their first experience is during a rainstorm or in below-freezing temperatures, they might not want to go skiing or snowboarding again. Choose a sunny and mild day. Children will stay more focused on learning and not on how miserably cold or wet they feel.
Clothing matters | 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.
Helmets are a necessity | 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.
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.
Make good food choices. | Hot chocolate is a staple of a young skier’s or riders’ diet but save it for when he or she needs a break to warm up. Before they hit the trails, feed them foods that will sustain them during outdoor winter exercise for several hours.
A snack or meal that includes protein, carbohydrates and fat, like a multigrain bagel with cream cheese or nut butter, will provide the energy needed to keep them going. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. The sugar creates a short spike in energy followed by physical and mental exhaustion.
On-the-mountain snacks are important, too. I stash snacks in my son’s jacket pocket so he can nibble on something between runs. Although high-sugar snacks are not ideal, I sometimes give him gummy bears for continued motivation.
Stay positive and encouraging | Let them enjoy their time skiing or snowboarding and avoid pushing them farther than they are ready to go. If they feel like it is a chore or a demand, they will be less likely to stay interested.
Consider enrolling your kid in a few group lessons or a weekly camp program. They will learn the basics of skiing and snowboarding, body awareness and technique.
For the complete Mountain Safety Guide, the Skier & Rider Responsibility Code and other safety topics such as chairlift safety, visit skicalifornia.org.