Snowboarding is a great way to have fun and get exercise during cold winter months. It's fairly easy to learn, but injuries do happen, some of them serious.
Follow these safety tips to help you stay safe on the slopes.
Safe Snowboarding Gear
The right gear can help prevent injuries. Be sure you have:
- A snowboard, boots, and bindings fitted by a trained professional.
- A helmet that's made for snowboarding. Be sure it fits properly and keep the chin strap fastened.
- Wrist guards.
- Goggles that are the right size and tinted for sun protection. Sunglasses can be worn instead, but goggles help you see better if it rains or snows, keep your face warmer, and are better at protecting your eyes from tree branches and other hazards.
- Warm clothing, including a hat, gloves or mittens, snow pants, and a winter jacket. A neck gaiter (which goes around your neck and can be pulled up over the face) can help keep your face warm. Dressing in layers can help you adjust if you get too warm. If you wear thermal underwear, get the kind made of wool or synthetic material rather than cotton, which takes a long time to dry and will make you cold.
- Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF of 30 or greater for daytime snowboarding, even on cloudy days.
On the slopes, everyone needs to follow these rules:
- Know which slopes are right for your skill level and snowboard only on those. If you find yourself on a slope that is too difficult, keep your snowboard on and sidestep down the hill.
- Don't snowboard alone.
- Stay on marked paths and never go past the snowboard area boundary or into a closed area.
- Pay attention to warning signs such as "Slow skiing area" and "Caution."
- Before you start down a hill or merge onto a trail, look uphill to make sure no one is coming toward you.
- Be aware of the snowboarder's blind spot. Because snowboarders face sideways, they can't see what's behind them. They need to look back and make sure no other snowboarders or skiers are in their blind spot before they make a sharp turn.
- Skiers and snowboarders in front of you have the right of way. Keep your distance and stay in control.
- Never stop in the middle of a trail or in any spot where you can't be seen from above, such as below a drop-off.
Lessons can be helpful for snowboarders of all levels. Sign up for a lesson from a trained instructor certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). Private lessons will give you the most one-on-one time with an instructor. Less expensive snowboard group lessons work well too and are a chance to make new friends.