Keeping young kids safe on a ski holiday
Taking young children to the mountains is to open the door to wonder and excitement. Little minds can’t help but be expanded when they meet giant peaks stretching up to the sky, when they learn to move with freedom in a whole new way and when they find themselves looking down on the wide world and have it suddenly seem quite small and yet infinite. The mountains change people and we never forget the trips we took as kids.
As parents, there’s another side to taking kids on a ski holiday, there’s the hassle, the risk and the worry this brings. The mountains are wonderful but there are risks that come with them, not to mention the general risks you face taking your family abroad on any holiday. Self catered ski holidays are popular with skiing families, being affordable and with plenty of family sized ski apartments available. There are also benefits of a good catered ski chalet holiday for a family. Meals are taken care of and good chalet hosts (like ours) will help with the little logistical tasks that parents must take in-stride like fetching lift passes or simply passing the children their coats from the rack. Whatever accommodation you choose for your ski holiday there’s still plenty for parents to worry about if the kids will enjoy the magic without a care. In this article we offer some tips and solutions to lighten the load for parents taking younger children to the mountains, to offer some peace of mind and hopefully to avoid certain issues in the first place. Our first tip, use sunscreen.
Our tips for parents
Make sure your transfer offers the correct child seatsTaking your kids on a ski holiday starts presenting challenges before you walk out of the door and travelling to a ski resort presents a few risks to be aware of. In addition to making it through the hustle and bustle of the airport, some enquiries should be made with your taxi and transfers about the availability of the right seats for your child or baby.
It’s European law that children use suitable child seats but if you’re booking your own transfer it’s always a good idea to confirm they’ll have the right child seats for your children. If your transfers are provided by Mountain Heaven you can rest assured that our transfers are fully equipped for the needs of your children. With safety taken care of you just need to keep their devices charged for the duration of the trip and you’ll be at your ski resort in no time.
A good ski schoolGetting young children out on the mountainside safely can be a challenge no matter what their level of ability, with close supervision an experienced parent can be the one to conduct them around the pistes and coach them in their skills. Doing this for a solid week can be a strain and it’s when you’re under strain that mistakes are made and things can get a little less fun. Booking your children into a good ski school for some lessons gives parents the chance to let loose on the slopes and provides children with a safe environment to build their skills. It can take the pressure off and make managing kids on the snow for a week a whole lot easier for parents.
Protective gearIt seems that adults get hurt most as total beginners but children get hurt more when they start to get good at it. Perhaps it’s the low centre of gravity but young children wobbling on a snowboard or skis for the first time get hurt less than a fully grown adult when they come crashing down. When children learn to put on a bit of speed, that’s when collisions and bumps occur and start to take their tole on body and spirit and sometimes cause a bit of serious damage. It’s advisable to get your children using protective gear appropriate to their environment and skill level. A helmet is usually essential to reduce the risk of the most serious injuries but wrist guards, back protectors and bum protection can all help build confidence and reduce the impact of common falls and bumps.
TrackersIf your children are old enough or bold enough to go exploring on their own it may become unbelievably important to have the ability to locate them. There was a recent sad story of two boys aged 10 and 12 who got separated from their family in Avoriaz, an incident that ended in tragedy .The technology to locate your kids exists today in many forms each with different advantages and disadvantages, there are specialist tracker GPS keyrings, tags and watches plus specialist phone apps for this purpose. Apps like Fatmap offer tracking, and an emergency rescue contact feature and more general use apps like the ‘find friends’ feature built into iPhone allows tracking of other phones provided they have battery and signal. Taking steps to track your children on the mountainside may be invaluable in an emergency.
Carry handleYoung kids on snow often have a wobble or a slip and it’s hard to steady them quickly, after all, what do you grab? Many a toddler has been hoisted up by the hood as they fall over and in an all-in-one suit that gives them a full body wedgie in trade for hitting the ground. Not a trade an adult would want to make.
The answer is a carry handle for your small children. There are many available known as a child harness or our favourite, the Nipper grip. A secure harness with a heavy duty carry handle in the lower back means that when your youngster starts to fall, you’ve got a helpful handle to grab and lift them in a comfortable harness back onto their feet. A carry handle can be just the ticket when out on the slopes or just walking around the resort.
Good judgment A section about keeping kids safe on the slopes wouldn’t be complete without some advice for the parents. Sometimes bad decisions are made even by parents with the best of intentions. We’ve seen too many stories about young kids getting into trouble in situations that could have been avoided so here are some top tips. Be very careful going off piste with children. Of course avalanche safety is paramount but the risks are many, in normal circumstances it’s just not a good idea at all. Watch out for the weather. A nice sunny day can soon turn into a blizzard with cold winds and bad visibility, whenever the weather turns it might be a good idea to make your way closer to home. Know where you are. An awful lot of trouble starts when people get lost, having a piste map and other tools can help you be sure of your position and how to get to safety.