Lifts and après ski – the most dangerous things about owning a ski home?

Posted on 25 February 2015

Homeowners making efforts to stay safe in the French Alps, take note – new research shows that as much care should be taken when trudging to a bar – or back from a bar – to your apartment as when you’re zooming full-speed down the slopes.

More than half (52 per cent) of injuries sustained on skiing holidays happen while not actually skiing on the slopes, according to a new report by a law firm that specialises in personal injuries. This includes incidents back at the ski chalet, at snow parks or doing other non-skiing activities and, unsurprisingly, in the street, restaurant or bar. Further to that, 15 per cent of accidents in ski resorts involve a ski lift!

The same report revealed that 15 per cent of all skiers injure themselves during their winter break. The top five causes for accidents given by those polled for the report were: going too fast on the slopes (27.5 per cent); lack of experience, practice or training (23.5 per cent); fault of another skier/snowboarder (20.3 per cent); collision with another skier/snowboarder (17 per cent); bad terrain (17 per cent).

Head of International Personal Injury Law at Irwin Mitchell, Clive Garner, says: “Each year during the ski season we are asked to help many people who have suffered injuries abroad both whilst participating in winter sports or during other activities in ski resorts. We know from over 20 years of experience, and the research supports this, that many of these accidents result in hospital treatment and leave those injured with serious and sometimes life changing injuries. It is important that anyone affected receives the best possible legal advice, support, treatment, rehabilitation and care.”

Meanwhile, travel association ABTA recently published these four top tips for staying safe on the slopes, relevant to all owners of ski homes in the French Alps:
1. Wear a helmet. There has been increased interest in ski safety – and much higher numbers wearing ski helmets but recent research has shown that worryingly a third of people are still skiing without helmets.
2. Get the right insurance. If you are planning to go off-piste or to undertake activities such as heli-skiing, remember that many insurance policies won’t cover you for risk activities, skiing at certain altitudes, for damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide.
3. Check weather forecasts and avalanche warnings. Recent heavy snowfalls in European resorts have created fantastic conditions, however they have built an unstable snow base and the perfect environment for the creation of an avalanche.
4. Be aware of off-piste risks. If you go off-piste, exercise extreme caution, always go with an experienced guide and make sure you have the right equipment such as an avalanche transmitter and a shovel. Don’t ski alone, tell others where you are planning to go and have a method of communication such as a mobile phone or tracking device with you and carry some cash.