With most ski resorts open, it is the time many families think about planning a family ski vacation. Before you hit the slopes, remember these simple tips for a safe and fun family ski vacation.
- Kids under 12 should always ski / board with an adult. This is a matter of safety, not a reflection of ability. Even the most accomplished kids should not be skiing without an adult to help navigate the terrain, make decisions and provide oversight in the event of an emergency. In fact, most of the ski instructors will not let their own kids loose on the mountain until they are at least 14 – and these are kids that literally grow up skiing on the mountain. Also, two kids skiing together does not make up for having an adult.
- Know your child's limits (and your own). Many accidents happen every year because parents push their kids beyond their abilities. It is not fun or safe to have kids skiing out of control on slopes much too steep for their ability. Build up to difficult runs gradually, over the course of the trip. Alternately, if everyone is skiing at different levels, plan for a few days of ski school.
- Follow the rules. No skiing out of bounds, no speeding through the slow zones, no cutting off other skiers and always stay in control. Every lift ticket and trail map lays out the rules of the mountain – know the code and follow it. It was created for your safety and the safety of others. More and more ski resorts are actively patrolling the mountain and will ticket code violators or prohibit them from returning. Parents can also be fined for the actions of their children.
- Practice proper ski etiquette and teach it to your kids. Skiers and boarders down mountain have the right-of-way – it is your responsibility to avoid them. Likewise, do not stop in an area that is not clearly visible to skiers / boarders coming down the mountain. Proper etiquette makes skiing and boarding more fun for everyone.
- Stay hydrated! It is easy to dehydrate at high altitude, especially while skiing. Drink plenty of fluids both on and off the mountain to avoid the dreaded altitude sickness. If transitioning to an altitude greater than 5,000 feet higher than you are accredited to, plan to take it easy the first day to give everyone a chance to adjust.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your time on the mountain.