Staying safe on the slopes this ski season
With ski season well under way, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs offers a few suggestions to make sure that day on the slopes stays a safe and fun activity.
Michigan uniquely offers 55 active licensed ski areas that operate more than 300 ski lifts, ranging from rope tows to high-speed, detachable chairlifts, according to LARA.
“We urge skiers and snowboarders of all ages to wear helmets and use extreme caution while getting on or off chairlifts. Mishaps around chairlifts account for the majority of ski lift-related injuries we see each year,” said Julia Dale, director of LARA’s Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing bureau that oversees the state’s ski safety program. “We set safety standards to help ensure that all skiers who hit Michigan slopes each year have a great time and avoid injury.”
Lift riders should make sure in advance they are familiar and knowledgeable about how to load, ride and unload safely, Dale advised.
“If you are uncertain about how to proceed, watch others and ask questions of the lift attendants, operators, or other area personnel,” Dale said. “Stay in control by knowing your own ability and limits, be constantly aware of other skiers and snowboarders around you and keep tabs on changing snow conditions. Don’t try and tackle a slope that exceeds your ability level. Use common sense; if you’re tired, stop skiing.”
Additional safety tips from LARA include:
— Rent or buy proper equipment and have ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly.
— Dress in layers; wear gloves or mittens and wear sunglasses or goggles for eye protection.
— Warm up properly and take lessons if needed.
— Stay in control. Be able to stop to avoid other people or objects.
— Be courteous. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
— Stop in a safe place for you and others. Don’t stop where you will obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
— Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to others.
— Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
— Observe all signs and warnings.
— Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
Michigan’s ski areas and ski lifts are licensed and inspected by LARA to ensure compliance with national standards and the Michigan Ski Area Safety Act of 1962, the first in the nation. LARA staff issue permits to operate and help ensure safe operation by inspecting ski areas and ski lifts annually, both before and during operation. Michigan law requires that mechanical failures and accidents involving ski lifts be reported.
LARA annually inspects more than 300 active ski lifts according to state and national standards, both before and during operation. Michigan exceeds national standards by requiring earlier and more frequent load testing of lifts to dynamically check main and emergency drive systems, brakes and anti-rollback mechanisms.
For more information, go to LARA’s Ski Area Safety website at: