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Date: 20/12/2016

Top Tips to Stay Safe on the Slopes

SkiSafe Campaign from FCO and ABTA

Skiers and snowboarders heading for the slopes this winter are urged to check they have the right insurance cover.

A third of winter sports enthusiasts admit they travel without knowing if they have the appropriate insurance for the activities they want to do.

Surprisingly, the worst offenders are those in the over-55 age bracket, with 46% saying they never check that they are covered.

The survey of 2,000 people by travel association ABTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is part of the #SkiSafe campaign, which urges people to ensure they are adequately prepared for their winter holiday.

There have been 58 British deaths and 118 hospitalisations from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the FCO in European resorts in the last four years, with thousands more suffering injuries both on and off-piste.

Here are some Stay Safe Top Tips.


1. Take out comprehensive travel insurance

Make sure you get insurance with winter sports cover and check that it covers you for everthing you want to do.  The cost of emergency medical treatment, being airlifted from the slopes or having to return to the UK unexpectedly amounts to many thousands of pounds, making it essential that travellers get the correct insurance cover.

Insurefor is offering 20% off your Winter Sport cover if you book before 31st January 2017, using the discount code: WSC20

2. Know the small print

Take into consideration any possible exemptions within the insurance documents. Check you are covered for skiing off-piste without a guide, also check if you are required to ski wear a helmet at all times. The more adventurous will also need to check the use of snowmobiles or whether they can go heli-skiing, where trails are accessed by helicopter rather than a ski lift.

3. EHIC card

Former Olympic skiier Graham Bell is backing the #SkiSafe campaign. His 10 tips for this winter include ensuring that skiers have a valid European Health Insurance Card in case of treatment at public hospitals in Europe.

The EHIC won’t cover all medical costs, private treatment or return to the UK.

4. Get fit for the slopes

Get a medical check-up and ensure you provide the correct medical information to your insurance company.  In order to enjoy your holiday to the optimum, you should ensure that you and your party are physically prepared for the slopes. Starting a fitness programme at least eight weeks in advance of your holiday will increase your fitness level so that you can enjoy the snow and fresh air to the maximum and it may also help to prevent injuries.

5. Choose the right equipment

Make sure everyone is happy with their equipment. Don’t be afraid to go back to where you hired it from it anything’s rubbing or feels wrong, it will only get worse. ABTA recommends that you wear a helmet, if you’re pre-booking your equipment make sure that helmets will be available. Make sure you pack lots of layers too.

6. Speed, distance and saftey

Most skiing injuries are caused by collisions with other skiers. 

Stay in your comfort zone and don’t attempt slopes you’re not experienced or fit enough to tackle.  Unless you’re a very confident skier or snowboarder, you will need to find an instructor or take classes.  If you’re going off-piste, always go with a guide.

7. Be prepared for off piste

Check your insurance policy covers off piste activity. Ensure you know the dangers and go with a qualified guide. Share your plans Make sure someone knows where you’re going, and tell them of any changes to your schedule. 

You should carry a piste map with you at all times. Take note of cable car, lifts and funicular closing times to avoid being stranded. 

8. Emergency services

Know how to contact the emergency services. Dial 112 in Europe and 911 for the US and Canada.