Guide To Winter Sports Safety

At ERGO we understand the importance of safety. We want you to get the most out of your trip and your cover. That’s why we’ve developed this Safety on Snow Guide to help you make the decision on how to protect yourself.

Before you go:

Skiing and snowboarding can be extremely demanding sports and it’s good to make sure you are in good physical fitness before heading out to the slopes. It is also a good idea to do some extra daily stretches in the weeks before you go to loosen up tight calf muscles!

Make sure your equipment is checked regularly; alternatively use a reputable equipment hire company once you reach your resort. Pack adequate layered clothing, and good quality gloves, helmet, sunglasses, goggles and sunscreen.

Keeping safe on the slopes:

If you’re not a frequent or experienced skier it might be a good idea to book yourself some lessons to get yourself comfortable on the slopes.

If hiring boots, check they feel right and fit comfortably, if not get them checked. You’ll barely be out of them!

Take a break. Recognise when you are tired and need to rest. Most accidents take place in the afternoon.

Wearing a helmet:

Wearing a helmet can prevent potentially fatal head injuries.

It is important to bear in mind that even with a helmet you are not invincible. You still need to take the same precautions that you would if you were not wearing a helmet. Maintain your awareness of what is going on around you.

ERGO have not made it a mandatory requirement to wear a helmet as a policy condition but strongly supports their use, except where it is impractical or counter-productive.

Choosing a helmet:

  • Make sure your helmet fits you; a well fitting helmet should be snug when the chin strap is fastened, and shouldn’t roll off backward. It is a good idea to try on a number of helmets to make sure you have chosen the best fit for your head shape.
  • Try on your goggles with your helmet to check it still fits; your helmet should not push up. Adjust if there is any uncomfortable pressure.
  • There should be an inch between your eyebrows and the front edge of the helmet, and the back of your helmet should not touch the nape of your neck.

Choosing a helmet for your child?

  • Get one that fits, don’t be tempted to buy one with growing room!
  • Inspect your helmet on a regular basis to ensure there are no cracks or dents. Helmets generally last two to three years.

Going off piste:

How does ERGO define off-piste?

We define off-piste as any area off of a designated marked trail or run. This includes unmarked areas between runs which are inside the resort boundary and areas located outside of the resort boundaries in the backcountry. It is important to note that ski parks, although designated and prepared, and the activities conducted within them, have a different risk and would therefore require the “Pro” level of cover.

When considering the limits of your off-piste cover it is important to take into consideration the particular resort you are visiting. Laws and practice vary from country to country, and place to place, so it is necessary that you observe and comply with local law at all times. This includes taking account of signs, information and advice given by the local resort authority each day. If local advice and laws are disobeyed, your cover may be compromised.

Off-piste with a guide: considering your guide

If you have chosen our “Adventurer” cover, this will cover you off-piste with a guide. At ERGO we define a guide as a qualified professional who is recognised as a guide by the resort, or advertised as such by a tour operator. When choosing your guide you will need to take this into consideration. We want to ensure that when you are going off-piste, you are being guided by
someone with the necessary skills and expertise.

Taking reasonable care off-piste

  • Equipment musts: probe, shovel, transceiver (and training/knowledge of how to use these)
  • Recommendations: mobile phone, first aid kit, whistle, rope, extra clothing.
  • Don’t venture off-piste when there is an avalanche rating of 3, 4 or 5.
  • Keep to terrain appropriate to your level of experience, accompanied by an experienced guide.
  • Never go off-piste alone

Avalanche rating

An Avalanche rating scale is used to represent the risks posed on a particular day; highlighting the probability of an avalanche being triggered.

There are 5 Avalanche Risk levels, with 1 being the lowest (the least likely to trigger an avalanche) running through to 5 at the top of this scale where the danger level is very high and conditions are the most unstable. It is essential to be aware of the Avalanche Warnings in your local resort as advised by the resort authority, and study these each day before going out.

We advise against going off piste when the resort or local authority has designated an Avalanche Warning Grade of 3 – 5.

As well as heeding professional advice, be attentive to avalanche warning signs such as the snow cracking beneath you, and factors that can increase the risk of an avalanche such as a high snowfall in a short space of time (e.g. a rate of 2 cm per hour).

5. Very High: Many large and multiple very large natural avalanches are expected

4. High: Triggering an avalanche is likely. Medium- sized and large-sized natural avalanches can be expected

3. Considerable: Triggering an avalanche is possible, and in some cases large-sized natural avalanches are possible

2. Moderate: Low danger of natural avalanches.

1. Low: No danger of natural avalanches.

Note: This is a general guide to ski safety information and winter sport safety in general. It is down to you as an individual to pay attention to local rules and regulations when participating in winter sports activities.

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