Hitting the slopes safely this season

  • Published
  • By Staff Reports
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Ripping through fresh powder of the Rocky Mountains on skis or a snowboard can be an exhilarating experience. The crisp, cool air rushing around you as you carve into the slopes, making your way to the bottom of the first day's run and taking the lift back to the top to do it all again.

Spending one's day on the slopes can be fun and invigorating. It can also be dangerous if one is not properly equipped and prepared.

As more snow falls, more skiers and snowboarders will flock to the resorts, making the slopes crowded and potentially hazardous if proper precautions are not taken.

Snowboarding is listed as one of many high risk activities, according to the 90th Missile Wing Safety Office.

The safety office recommends documenting participation in these activities using Air Force Form 4391, High Risk Activities Worksheet.

"It is important personnel understand how their participation in these activities could have a negative impact on the mission should they sustain an injury," said Lt. Col. Michael Calvaresi, Chief of Safety, 90th Missile Wing. "By using this tool, supervisors can identify and assess which individuals are at an increased risk."

Hitting the slopes safely this season

· Get in shape. Don't try to ski or snowboard yourself into shape. You'll enjoy it more if you're physically fit.

· Obtain proper equipment. Be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop.

· Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature. For example, dress in polypropylene underwear (tops and bottoms), which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Wear a turtleneck, sweater and jacket.

· Be prepared. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Bring a headband or hat with you to the slopes, 60 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Wear gloves ormittens.

· Wear sun protection. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days!

· Always wear eye protection. Have sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you can see.

· Helmets are strongly recommended on ski slopes.

· ALWAYS wear helmets in a terrain park!

Along with the form, the following tips for skiing and snowboarding are offered. In addition to wearing the proper personal protective equipment, there are some things to be aware of while on the slopes.

· Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. As the snow pack turns firm, the skiing gets hard and fast. Begin a run slowly.

· If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis on and side step down the slope or remove your snowboard and walk down.

· The all-important warm-up run prepares you physically for the day ahead.

· Drink plenty of water. Be careful not to become dehydrated.

· Know your limits. Learn to ski/snowboard smoothly and in control.

· Take lessons to develop the ability to ski slopes of your choice.

· Study trail maps to select runs suitable to your ability.

· Become familiar with hill coding signs and trail markers.

· Control your speed. No speeding on the slopes.

· Ski under control to avoid other skiers or objects on the hill.

· When skiing downhill and overtaking others, call out that you are passing to the left or right.

· Skiers/boarders traversing a slope in opposite directions should pass to the right of each other.

· Start slowly on your skis or board on terrain parks. When you are new to the sport, try simple obstacles first, then move on to tougher ones as your skill increases.

· DO NOT ski/board while listening to mp3 players or any other device.

· DO NOT consume alcohol prior to skiing or snowboarding, like driving, this impairs your ability to react. Following these tips and having a plan can help ensure you have a safe, enjoyable experience on the slopes.