Ways to stay safe while enjoying the slopes

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UNION DALE, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Every year, fatal ski and snowboarding accidents happen in our area. And with winter underway, ski patrols are warning you to stay safe on the slopes.

Every year, thousands hit the slopes of NEPA to ski and snowboard. But to prevent any serious injuries, the ski patrol at Elk Mountain wants everyone to come prepared.

“Number one is a helmet. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable with them, that they can’t hear with them or they’re too warm, but with the new technology, it’s a must,” Bob Bluff, patrol director for Elk Mountain, said.

As important as helmets are, it is also crucial that everyone who skis or snowboards has a buddy.

“Buddy skiing is kind of like buddy swimming. It’s the safest way and it’s also more enjoyable,” Bluff said.

Trying new trails can be fun but you should only go down the trails you know your skill set can handle.

“I see a lot of parents trying to take their kids down at the end of the day because they didn’t get to a certain slope. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re comfortable with the slope. Please don’t do it at the end of the day. They’re tired and that’s when bad things happen,” Bluff said.

But accidents do happen, so if you get hurt, this is what you should do.

“If there is a friend with them, the best thing to do is take their skis off, put an X above them so they know there is an issue. Make somebody get down to call ski patrol base and we’ll dispatch somebody immediately. They can call down to the office with their cellphones or they can ski down to the bottom of the lift if it’s not too serious,” Bluff said.

Ski patrol officers are outdoor emergency care-certified and are frequently going down the trails to ensure the safety of everyone on the mountain.

“We are constantly monitoring the trails. We have a sign-in book at the top. We have to ski all the trails within the hour or sooner all the time. We are constantly monitoring all the trails, but accidents happen,” Bluff said.

The National Ski Association, National Ski Patrol and Professional Ski Instructors of America have a list of skiers’ responsibilities to remain safe while enjoying being on the mountain.

  1. Always Stay in Control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride, and unload safely.

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