Ways to stay safer while on the ski hills

The rounds of snowfall did bring a few benefits — ski areas in the region likely are in prime condition.

With that in mind, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs offers some advice on staying safe on the slopes.

LARA oversees the state’s ski safety program, which includes oversight of 53 ski areas that encompasses 34 surface lifts, 137 chair lifts and 125 rope tows.

“When heading out to experience the powder on the bunny hill or the mountain, keep safety in mind at every turn,” LARA Director Orlene Hawks said. “We adopt safety standards to help ensure that all those who hit Michigan slopes each year have a great time and avoid injury.”

Those tips include:

— Wear a certified helmet. Rent or buy proper equipment and have ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly.

— Dress in layers; wear gloves or mittens and sunglasses or goggles for eye protection.

— Warm up properly. Take lessons if needed.

— Use extreme caution while getting on or off chairlifts, as mishaps around chairlifts account for a majority of ski lift-related injuries. Know how to load, ride and unload safely. If unfamiliar, ask a lift attendant or operator for help.

— Be well aware of abilities and limits while on the slopes. Don’t ski or snowboard on trails that are above your skill level — and don’t go off-trail.

— Ski or snowboard with a friend for greater safety.

— Obey the rules. Observe all signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

— Stay in control and be constantly aware of other skiers and snowboarders around you. 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. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to others.

— Stop in a safe place for you and others. Don’t stop where you will obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.

— Keep tabs on changing snow conditions.

— Use common sense — if tired, stop skiing.

For more information, go to LARA’s Ski Area Safety website at https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-89334_10575_17394_88174—,00.html.