The National Ski Areas Association has developed a Code of Responsibility designed to make our ski slopes safer. When taking our children skiing and snowboarding, it’s our responsibility as parents to make sure our kids know this code. We can all be safer and enjoy our time skiing with our kids if everyone follows the code. Nothing ruins a ski day faster than an accident that didn’t need to happen. The Responsibility Code is summed up in these 7 items.
Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
It’s important that we adults model responsible behavior. Everything from wearing our helmets to respecting ski patrol, but most important is teaching our kids the code and then following it ourselves.
When teaching your kids about the the code, try to focus on what they can do. Have them give you examples of what each of the responsibilities means. Here are some suggestions for simplifying it for kids to understand.
1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
Control your skis and snowboard. Only go as fast as you can control yourself. It can be fun to race down the mountain as fast as you can, but if you can’t stop within a few feet of starting the stop, you aren’t in control. For kids this is especially important to emphasize.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
As you ski, always be looking downhill to see what’s ahead of you. Someone turning in front of you isn’t their responsibility if you are upslope from them. We developed our product, The Kideaux Dragon, with just this code in mind. Children are especially hard to see and crazy unpredictable, so seeing them from way up the hill is vital in preventing collisions with them.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
Teach your children to stop on the side of the run or at the top of any hills or risers. Never below or in the middle of a run. Especially children as they’re already smaller and really easy to not see!
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
We can’t stress the importance of this one enough, especially with our kids! Be patient and wait for there to be an opening. We always tell our kids that it’s hard to know who’s following the first code or not, so you don’t want to find out when they hit you full speed that they weren’t in control. Some of the worst collisions are caused by people starting out or merging without looking uphill. Keep your head on a swivel!
5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
Use the wrist straps on your ski poles, make sure your skis braking mechanism engages when detached from your boot, and use the leash cord on your snowboard. You can keep others on the ski slope safe by not letting your gear run off down the mountain without you, but it’s also really nice to not have to ski all the way down the mountain on one ski because your other ski took off like a rocket!
6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
Areas in the resort are closed off for a reason. Whether it’s unsafe for skiers and snowboarders to be there, or the run isn’t ready to be open. It’s not our job to decide why an area is closed. Teach your kids to obey all the signs. When there’s a slow sign, it’s typically because there are trails merging or blind curves ahead (see #4) or it’s an main run that has a large number of skiers and boarders of all abilities. The signs aren’t there to ruin our fun, but to make the entire ski slope safer for everyone so that we can all have fun!
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Go over with your kids how to load, ride, and unload from the lift. Watch videos, watch the lift for awhile before getting in line so show them how it works, and make sure to encourage safe habits when dealing with the lifts. See our post on how to teach your children to safely ride the ski lift chairs for some suggestions and videos.
This is not a comprehensive list, just a starting place for all of us who want to ski and snowboard to understand our responsibility when it comes to keeping ourselves and others safe. As a parent, this code takes on an additional responsibility as we have to teach our children to be safe while skiing and snowboarding as well. A little time spent teaching them the Skiers Code of Responsibility will help train the next generation of skiers and snowboards to be safety conscious and aware of their role in ensuring the safety and fun of everyone on the ski slope. A safe ski slope benefits all of us! Happy skiing and boarding!