The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has published guidelines warning those taking part in winter sports not to unnecessarily put themselves in harm.
The warning comes in the wake of reports that seven people have so died this year on the slopes in France out of 12 serious injuries.
The message asks those who will making the journey for winter sports to know their limits before hitting the slopes and not to try to keep up with the more experienced members of staff. It also quoted a poll which revealed that only 1% of respondents believed that they were an expert – with most putting themselves at intermediate or beginner. Despite this, 70% admitted to not wearing a helmet.
Simon Taylor, Consul, based in Marseille, said: “Last year we saw a high number of British nationals end up in hospital with serious injuries. Sadly this included a number of deaths. Many of these accidents can be prevented by taking simple precautionary steps. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll be fine if you’re with more experienced skiers or snowboarders. It is significant that a large number of cases we have dealt with have involved off piste skiing. Those lucky enough to survive an accident and end up in hospital can face months of recovery, so it is important to think carefully beforehand about the very real risks out there. ”
The FCO has developed the following tips to ensure winter sports travellers stay safe on the slopes this winter:
Top tips to stay safe on the slopes:
• Take out insurance – and check what it covers. It might not cover off piste skiing unless you are with a qualified guide.
• Have a check-up before you ski – one of the major causes of hospitalisation and death on the slopes is heart attacks.
• Don’t drink and ski. Alcohol can affect you more quickly at high altitudes and dangerously limits your awareness of risk and cold.
• Most skiing injuries are caused by collisions with other skiers – watch your speed and distance.
• Don’t attempt slopes you’re not experienced or fit enough to tackle.
• If you want to go off piste, go with a qualified guide.
• If going off piste carry a shovel, a probe and a transceiver in case of an avalanche. Also remember that you need proper training on how to use a transceiver.
• If you are going out on a glacier, you must wear a harness. If you fall into a crevasse, this will help the rescue team get you out.
• Make sure someone knows where you’re going and tell them of any changes to your plans.
• Only go off piste skiing or climbing with someone you have met previously and can trust. You need to know his/her capabilities, what you’ll be doing and where.