Whether you're new to the world of winter sports or an old hand, it's always good to swot up on winter sports safety tips if you're planning an exhilarating trip this season.
While you'll certainly blow the cobwebs away by taking to the slopes, you still want to enjoy your holiday safe in the knowledge that every angle's covered.
That's why we've put together this guide to keep you safe while you enjoy your longed-for sports this winter.
Preparing for your holiday isn't just about packing the night before you go. If your trip revolves around winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, then you'll need to start thinking about your fitness at least a few weeks in advance.
Even if you have a good fitness level, activities like skiing use muscles that you might not otherwise use regularly. And remember that you'll be at higher altitudes too, which can take a toll on your body.
You'll also need to practise specific skills like balancing to get the most out of your winter sports holiday.
You can easily find exercise routines designed for winter sports on YouTube or use other social media channels for inspiration.
Invest in the right equipment
Whether you're skiing, snowboarding or hiking in a wintry landscape, you'll need to invest in the right equipment to keep you comfortable and safe.
Wearing a helmet is recommended for most activities, and this may even be required by your winter sports insurance cover. You'll also need sturdy, well-fitting footwear and waterproof clothing, socks and gloves.
Remember that you will be able to hire equipment such as skis, poles and boots once you get to the resort.
Be sun safe
You can suffer from the effects of the sun just as quickly on a winter holiday as a summer one. For example, if you're on a ski slope, not only will the snow reflect the sun's rays, but the higher you go, the more you will be exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
That's why it's so important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays of at least 50 SPF and reapply it every two hours.
The cold, dry air will also strip your skin of its moisture, so make sure you have a good skincare regime in place to compensate.
Your eyes can be vulnerable to UV rays too, so get yourself kitted out with goggles or sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
Know your limits on the slopes
If you're skiing, know which slopes suit your level of ability best. Usually, green routes are the easiest and are best for beginners. The sequence goes blue, red then black in terms of increasing difficulty. If in doubt, choose the easier option.
Remember that as weather conditions change throughout the day, so will your chosen piste's difficulty level. So stay aware and adjust your plans if necessary.
Finally, don't be tempted to ski off-piste without a guide or qualified instructor.
Be aware of the weather forecast and, in particular, of the possibility of avalanches before you head out to your winter sports.
When you're out and about, look out for red flags that warn of unstable snow or adverse environmental conditions.
Know the incline of the terrain you are on. Slopes of less than 25 degrees are generally safer than 30 to 45-degree slopes, which are more likely to experience an avalanche.
Stick to terrain with plenty of mature trees, which can help slow down or stop the course of an avalanche.
Don't be tempted to head out into remote country alone but travel in groups. And always make sure that you tell someone else your plans and intended route.
It goes without saying that you should have essentials such as food, drink and a fully charged phone with you if you are heading away from a resort.
So a winter sports holiday is all about the après-ski, right? While you're definitely on holiday to relax, it's sensible to remember a few rules about food, alcohol and drugs when you're away.
Starting with food, try not to over-indulge. Eating lots of rich food that your body isn't used to can result in tummy upsets that will stop your fun.
Drinking alcohol in moderation is all part of the holiday experience. But bear in mind that drinking too much will affect your judgement and ability to keep yourself safe. If you're at a high altitude, you will become intoxicated more quickly, so stick to less alcohol than you would typically drink.
Don't be tempted to try illegal drugs. As well as the legal consequences to consider, consuming drugs can make you vulnerable and result in addiction, illness and even death.
You should also know that you won't be covered for accident, loss or injury under your winter sports insurance policy if the incident takes place while you are intoxicated.
Get winter sports travel insurance
It's definitely best to plan ahead and take all the sensible precautions you can if you're going on a winter sports holiday.
But if the worst should happen, it's a relief to know that you have adequate insurance in place. Know that a regular travel insurance policy won't give you the cover you need if you're going to be practising winter sports.
These kinds of activities are deemed high-risk with a greater likelihood of accident or injury, so you will need specialist winter sports insurance for Europe or worldwide, depending on where you're travelling to.
A winter sports insurance policy will cover extras like medical care related to injuries sustained while practising your sport and replacing essential equipment like skis and protective clothing if they get lost, damaged or stolen.
Get on with planning your winter fun safely
By following our safety tips and adding a good dose of common sense, there's no reason not to enjoy your much-anticipated winter holiday safely.
Give yourself extra peace of mind by getting the winter sports insurance cover in place before you go.
You can carry out a winter sports insurance comparison on our site within minutes by providing basic information about yourself and your holiday. Choose the Winter sports cover option and find a selection of insurance policies tailored for you.
If you prefer to speak to an expert, get in touch. One of our friendly advisers will talk you through the process of finding the perfect policy for you, leaving you free to get on with planning your winter fun safely.