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The hazards of skiing


A guide to slope safety

January 6, 1998
Web posted at: 8:43 a.m. EST (1343 GMT)

(CNN) -- In the wake of Michael Kennedy's death last week in a skiing accident and Monday's death of Congressman Sonny Bono in an apparent ski accident, concern about safety on the slopes is mounting.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, there were 36 skiing-related deaths in the 1996-97 ski season. The majority of the victims were in their late teens or 20s, and half were male.

Experts say ski accidents are more likely to happen at the end of the day when the weather is colder, skies darker and skiers more tired. And while most fatal ski accidents involve massive head injuries, few skiers wear helmets.

Several national skiing-related organizations have endorsed a list of skiing rules, posted in most ski areas:

  • Stay in control. Skiers need to be able to stop or avoid other people or objects at all times.

  • People in front have the right of way and it's your responsibility to avoid them.

  • Don't block a ski trail. Yield to others when starting downhill or merging with another trail.

  • Use skis with ski brakes that will keep them from getting away from you after a fall.

  • Observe all posted warning signs.

  • Know how to use a ski lift.

There is a law on ski safety; it emphasizes that skiers are the ones ultimately responsible for their own safety.


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