A third of snow lovers fail to check whether they are covered for winter sports before they hit the slopes, according to research from ABTA – the association of UK travel agents – in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
But, perhaps surprisingly, the research revealed that being older, doesn’t always mean you’re wiser. The over-55s were the group most likely to skip this step, with more than half (46%) failing to ensure they are covered for sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Over the last four years, some 58 British deaths and 118 hospitalisations resulting from ski or snowboarding accidents in European resorts have been reported to the FCO. However, there will have been thousands more being injured both on and off-piste.
Michael Vibert, head of consular communications at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, says: “As the ski season gets under way, we want to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared for their winter sports holiday. The research from ABTA suggests that not enough British Nationals are checking they have taken out appropriate insurance before they travel.
“We want to emphasise the importance of taking responsibility and preparing for your trip so you can ski safe this winter and enjoy your time on the slopes.”
As part of the #SkiSafe campaign, ABTA and the FCO have teamed up with five time Olympian Graham Bell who is sharing his tips to stay safe:
- Check your travel policy and get an EHIC. Make sure your insurance policy covers all of the winter sports activities that you are planning to do and remember to take your free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) along with you, for necessary treatment at public hospitals in Europe.
- Get fit to reduce injury. Get fit for the slopes by doing ski-specific exercises that work the quads, glutes, and core. Try to include balance and co-ordination into your work-out.
- Pick a suitable resort. If you’re a first time skier, make sure you pick a resort that is suitable and will help you to progress. Look for lots of blue runs, and a beginners’ area close to town.
- Get equipped. When you’re on the slopes make sure you are using appropriate safety equipment, and familiarise yourself with the International Ski Federation guidelines so that you don’t put yourself at risk of a collision. Use the right equipment including a properly fitting helmet.
- Don’t forget the suncream! You can burn in the mountains even in the middle of winter because of the reflection from the snow.
- Get appropriate shoes. Make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear for use off the slopes, or get yourself a pair of rubber snow grips to put over your shoes.
- Don’t drink and ski. Keep in mind that alcohol and winter sports don’t mix. The effects of alcohol are multiplied at altitude, so save it for the après-ski.
- Stick together. If you’re heading out in the evening, make sure to stick together with friends and family. Temperatures can drop dramatically at night, so you don’t want to end up getting lost.