High profile accident warning to skiers about safety on the slopes

Posted on 31 December 2013

Champ F1 driver Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in the French Alps this Christmas time has shocked skiers around the world and at the same time acted as a reminder of the need to protect yourself while out on the slopes, especially if you ski off-piste.

No-one can eliminate risk entirely when skiing, but being prepared, having the right ski gear (all of which can be hired in a ski resort) and taking note of’s following safety tips will help owners of ski homes in the Alps to stay safe while skiing off the beaten track, or off-piste.

  • Wear a helmet. Sounds obvious but – a bit like many cyclists, many skiers continue to choose not to wear a helmet, even though being off-piste leaves you more exposed to accidents than sticking to groomed slopes. The good news is these days helmets have become a fashion accessory, so there’s a good chance there’s a helmet out there that really does suit you.Wear transceivers. Everyone in your group (you should never ski off-piste alone) should wear a transceiver, so that in the event of one of the group being buried in an avalanche, they can be detected more easily by the other skiers.
  • Carry a shovel. Specially designed to be light and collapsible, a shovel is indispensable for rescuing a colleague buried under snow.
  • Carry a probe. Essentially a collapsible pole, this is invaluable for searching for a colleague buried under the snow.
  • Check the conditions. One the greatest dangers of off-piste skiing is avalanches. Before heading out, check the conditions of the mountain, research the terrain you’ll be covering and take all necessary precaution to avoid being caught in an avalanche.
  • If in doubt, ski one at a time. This applies to traversing a slope or skiing down a slope – if the snow looks unpredictable, each skier in your group should go one at a time, meaning if the worst were to happen, the other skiers should be safe and able to help.
  • Get professional assistance. Every resort has experienced guides who know the local mountains like their own back-yard. If you or any of your group have any niggling concerns about off-piste skiing, get a guide. Don’t try and save a few quid for the sake of saving your or someone else’s life.