You and your family are planning your very first ski trip. Lift passes have been purchased, gear is packed, snacks have been prepared, and you’ve had the day marked in your calendar for weeks.
The day has finally come. It’s early in the morning and you wake up before the alarm goes off. While you make your coffee, you start thinking about how you’re going to teach the kids the snow plough, the French fries, and other beginner techniques to make sure they know how to be safe on the slopes. But does everyone know how to be safe on the lift? After all, the kids have never ridden before, and you’ll need to know how to load, unload, and ride the lift to access the runs.
At Technical Safety BC, we receive, investigate, and post reports of chairlift incidents in the province. To ensure you and your family have a safe, fun-filled day on the slopes, we’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes we see on the chairlift.
- Getting distracted when attempting to load. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and look back to keep an eye out for the next chair. If you’re not prepared to load, you can be hit and knocked over by the approaching chair unexpectedly. We've seen riders sustain injuries by getting knocked down by an unexpected chair while loading.
- Bouncing, turning around, fidgeting, or trying to make equipment adjustments while riding chairlifts. Most kids are excited to ride the chairlift for the first time. They may want to wiggle or move around to wave at others, but it’s important to make sure everyone remains seated while on the lift — too much movement on the chair can lead to serious falls from considerable distances.
- Raising the bar too early, too late, or too quickly. The restraining bar should be lifted carefully and with ample time to unload from the chair. Lifting the bar too quickly or suddenly can result in injuries to your chair-mates, or even to yourself. Recently, a person suffered an amputation of the tip of their finger when they lifted the bar too quickly and their finger was caught between the restraining bar mounting bracket and the bar stop.
- Carrying items that can get caught on the carrier. Secure any loose items and hold backpacks on your lap. Most accidents involving backpacks are caused by loose straps getting caught on the lift or getting wedged into the seat.
- Obstructing the unloading ramp. After you get off the chairlift, make sure you and your family move away from the unloading ramp, otherwise you could be struck by the chair you unloaded, or by another approaching group.
Finally, if you’re unfamiliar with the lift or have questions, ask a lift operator for assistance — they’re there to help!
Stay safe and enjoy your trip.