Mountain Safety

How to stay safe for a lifetime of skiing and riding

Your Responsibility Code | Ride Another Day | Lift Safety | Helmets | Terrain Park Safety | Sun Safety

Your Responsibility Code

Staying safe on the slopes is easy when you KNOW THE CODE! Always be aware of your surroundings, and the people around you. If you have questions, ask! Ski patrol and other mountain personnel are here to help.

The seven points to Your Responsibility Code

  1. Stay in control. Be able to stop, turn and move to adjust to the conditions.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
  3. If you need to stop, do so in a safe place to the side of the trail where you are visible from above.
  4. When starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to traffic above you. Proceed only when clear.
  5. Use devices to prevent runaway equipment. On skis, these are the brakes on your binding. On a snowboard, this is a leash that attaches to your boot.
  6. Observe all signs and warnings; stay off closed trails!
  7. Know how to load, ride and unload all lifts safely.

know the code poster                              know-the-code

Ride Another Day

Collisions are one of the most preventable accidents on the slopes. The easiest way to prevent a collision is to follow Your Responsibility Code, especially point number one: Ski and snowboard in control. But it can be difficult to communicate the importance of this to teenagers and those who consider themselves to be "experts." This video from the Ride Another Day initiative is meant to emphasize everyone's role in slope safety.

Lift Safety

Riding the ski lift can be one of the best parts of the day - the views are beautiful, your legs get a rest, and you get to catch up with friends, family, or make a new friend! But, it's important (and part of Your Responsibility Code) to know how to load, ride and unload all lifts safely. Not sure what to do at a lift? Ask an attendant or ski patroller for help. Learning how to ride the lift is also one of the features of a ski lesson, and another reason it's worth discovering snow with a pro.

Tips for riding lifts safely

  • Be familiar with the type of lift you are riding, and ask for help if you need it.
  • Before loading, remove backpacks and secure loose items. Remove pole straps from wrists.
  • Look over your shoulder to watch the chair approach.
  • Sit all the way in the chair, with your back to the seat rest.
  • If the lift has a restraint bar, wait until everyone is seated, and slowly reach up and lower the bar. Do not attempt to lower the bar if you cannot reach it! Adults should always help kids to lower the bar.
  • Be aware of your surroundings while riding the lift. If you drop something, let it fall! You can always ask ski patrol for help retrieving the lost item.
  • As you approach the top terminal, prepare to raise the bar. Look for signs advising you to do so to help with your timing.

Check out the videos below for some great examples, tips and tutorials for everything you need to know to ride the lift safely. We also have a website, Kids on Lifts, that is meant to help improve the safety of kids on ski lifts.

Video resources




Helmets can help mitigate head injuries on the slopes. Bonus: they also keep your head warm! Not all ski areas require helmets, but it is a good idea to outfit your child with one, and wear one yourself. While wearing a helmet is a personal choice, you would be setting a good example for the young ones in your family if you chose to wear one while skiing or riding.

Helmet Stats

  • Approximately 84% of skiers and snowboarders in the U.S. wear helmets
  • Nearly 100% of kids age 9 and under wear helmets. Many ski areas include helmets in a kids' rental package, and some may even require children to wear one in a lesson (for example, the state of New Jersey requires all kids under age 18 to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding).
  • A peer reviewed scientific study found that potentially serious head injuries in skiing decreased as helmet usage increased. Helmets have been found to reduce the severity of head injuries and almost completely prevent lacerations.

More Resources

Lids on Kids is a website dedicated to getting kids to wear helmets and emphasizing the importance of helmets in mountain safety. Check out the Helmets are Cool video series below from our friends at the High Fives Foundation. This series is part of the BASICS (Being Aware & Safe In Critical Situations) initiative. See how wearing a helmet changed the lives of skiers and snowboarders, and get help finding the right one for you.

Freestyle Terrain Safety

The National Ski Areas Association and Burton Snowboards would like to welcome you to the "Park Smart" Terrain Park Safety initiative. Park Smart is a cooperative effort with the help of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) and National Ski Patrol (NSP) that emphasizes the proper use of terrain parks while delivering a unified message.

The Park Smart video below, along with, work together to emphasize the importance of safety in terrain parks across the country. We are currently updating with the most recent resources and information for the Park Smart program.

park smart language

Park Smart Terrain Park Safety Program Messages:

START SMALL - Work your way up. Build your skills.

MAKE A PLAN - Every feature. Every time.

ALWAYS LOOK - Before you drop.

RESPECT - The features and other users.

TAKE IT EASY - Know your limits. Land on your feet.

park smart signage          terrain park signage 2

Spreading the message is important. Don't go if you don't know!

Sun Safe on the Slopes

It is important to take extra care protecting your skin and eyes from too much sun when you go skiing and snowboarding. Both high elevation and the sun reflecting off the snow can expose your skin to more sun than normal. Check out our tips below to ensure you have a safe and comfortable time on the hill.

  • Wear pants, long sleeves, and gloves even on warm days.
  • Put on a hat or helmet that covers your ears.
  • Wear 100% UV protection goggles or sunglasses.
  • Apply generous amounts of SPF 30+ sunscreen on exposed skin every two hours.
  • It’s not the heat of the sun that causes skin damage but radiation from the sun.