How to stay safe on the slopes

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has developed ‘Rules of Conduct’ that apply to all who use the pistes – regardless of what equipment they’re using. This ‘highway code’ for the snow helps everyone to stay safe on the slopes, and should be followed at all times

The International Ski Federation’s FIS Rules of Conduct.


Safety First - Stay safe while skiing

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has developed ‘Rules of Conduct’ that apply to all who use the pistes – regardless of what equipment they’re using. This ‘highway code’ for the snow helps everyone to stay safe on the slopes, and should be followed at all times. These Rules of Conduct are posted outside ski schools, by ski lifts and often printed on the back of Piste maps. They should be read by everyone before venturing onto the slopes.

10 FIS Rules of Conduct:

  1. Respect for other skiers and snowboarders A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he or she does not endanger or prejudice others.
  2. Control of speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding Every skier or snowboarder must move in control. He or she must adapt the speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather, as well as to the density of traffic.
  3. Choice of route A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his or her route in such a way not to endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.
  4. Overtaking A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that enough space is left for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.
  5. Entering, starting and moving upwards When entering marked run: Skiers or snowboarders, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes, must look up and down the slopes before moving so as not to endanger themselves or others.
  6. Stopping Unless absolutely necessary, skiers or snowboarders must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. If a fall should occur here, it is essential to move clear of the piste as soon as possible.
  7. Climbing and descending on foot A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slopes.
  8. Respect for signs Skiers and snowboarders must respect all signs and markings.
  9. Assistance In the case of an accident, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.
  10. Identification Following any accident, every skier and snowboarder, whether a responsible party or witness, must exchange names and addresses.

Here you can find out more about how to provide first aid for a slope incident.

Avoiding Collisions

Ski to your level of competence – do not be tempted to go at a faster pace than you are comfortable with and moderate your speed according to visibility and the quality of the snow. Always ski at a pace when you are in control.

Always be aware of your surroundings; people go very fast and although you may be in control, others may not.

Always adhere to the FIS rules of conduct and always look uphill before setting off.

Wear a helmet to protect your head, you and others will be going at speed and it can also protect you from ski poles, skis and banging your head at the lifts.

Bindings and boots

Ensure you give accurate information on your age, ability, height and weight as these are critical to calculate the right settings for the bindings of your skis.

Incorrectly adjusted ski bindings account for most leg and knee injuries. If your bindings are too tight and you fall, your skis will not detach and this can result in very serious injuries. Conversely if your bindings are too loose your skis may fall off, which can also cause injury.Ensure your boots are comfortable and fit well. Do not do them up too tight and if you find that your feet get very cold or lose sensation, this could be the cause.


Ice is slippery and trying to turn on black ice is frightening and can lead to accidents. Avoid turning on ice if at all possible and often there is powdered snow beyond that which would be easier to navigate.


The weather at altitude can change incredibly fast, so always dress for all eventualities. Layers are always best and the general advice is to choose all synthetic or all natural. Ideally do not mix layers of wool with layers of synthetic fabrics as they work in different ways to keep you warm.Good gloves and socks are essential.Weather warnings are often posted at ski lifts.

Dehydration and exhaustion

Skiing is a strenuous activity and it is vital that you keep yourself hydrated and do not overdo it. Take regular breaks and sips of water whenever you can. Take easy to eat snacks to munch on the lifts to keep your energy levels up. If you are skiing to another resort, ensure that you have planned the route sufficiently and allowed enough have time to get back before the lifts close.


Watch out for unnaturally white patches of skin on the faces of your companions or on your hand as these can be the early signs of frostbite.Take regular breaks and thaw frozen flesh with body heat and massage. Never put frostbitten hands or feet in hot water or on radiators.


Ice and snow considerably adds to the power of the sun and it is possible to burn quickly even on a cloudy day. Always cover all exposed areas with high factor suncream and ensure you have good quality sunglasses or goggles. Ensure you apply regular lip balm that contains a sunfactor. If someone is sunburnt – once back at base run the area under tepid water and apply neat Aloe Vera.

This information for guidance only and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. We’re not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.


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