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Nordic Ski Club Of Milwaukee

Emergencies on the Ski Trails

How to Survive, Help Other Skiers & Avoid Frostbite

General guidelines:

  • Don't ski alone. (If you do, let someone know which trails you're skiing on & when you expect to return. Don't take unnecessary risks.)
  • Always bring extra clothes: Minimum of extra mittens/gloves, hat, windbreaker
  • Bring an emergency kit (space blanket, hand warmers, plastic trash bag, etc. See below.)

An Emergency When You're Alone:

  1. Stay calm. If you can move, get off the trail but stay in sight of trail. Keep skiis out of way so no one else falls and gets injured or injures you more.
  2. Put on extra clothes to keep warm (remove wet clothes if possible). Mittens are warmer than gloves. Most body heat is lost through the head; wear 2 hats if needed; pull up hood.
  3.  Call for help. Use a whistle to call (keep one in emergency kit).
  4. If someone comes by, don't be afraid to say that you're injured. Never underestimate an injury, especially if you feel dizzy, cannot move a limb or are bleeding.
  5. If an injury is bleeding, use compression to stop the bleeding.
  6. If a bone is broken, move yourself off the trail carefully so as not to make it worse.

An Emergency When You're With a Partner:

  1. First: Stay calm. The non-injured skier should determine whether the injured can be left: For example, if there is bleeding, a severe head injury, a heart attack, a bone sticking through the skin, or other serious problem, you should stay with the other person & apply first aid or CPR.
  2. Don't ski away immediately for help. Take a few minutes to get the injured off the trail and onto plastic or a windbreaker that will keep him/her from getting wet; give the injured any extra clothes you have. If someone comes by, stop him/her and ask for help.
  3. Before you leave, note the time and the location. Tell the injured person where you're going and that you will get help. Give him/her any extra clothes & food you have. Tell the injured person to ask any passersby to stay with him/her until help comes.
  4. Ski safely when going for help. If you're injured, you can't help someone else.

An Emergency When You're With a Group:

  1.  Stay calm. One person should take charge.
  2. Don't have anyone leave until injured person is moved off the trail (be careful not to aggravate an injury), made comfortable, and has put on extra clothes.
  3. Have one person go for help AFTER you have checked the time and the location.
  4. If a skier knows first aid, that skier should stay with injured & help keep person warm.
  5. Skier going for help should stay on or near the trails & note the route back. If possible, the same skier should go with emergency personnel to lead them back to the injured.

Emergency Kit in a Fanny Pack:

  • Must: extra gloves/mittens, extra hat, extra windbreaker, whistle, plastic trash bag
  • Highly recommended: 1 or 2 space blankets (to reflect your body heat back to you), chemical hand warmers, small Swiss Army knife with scissors, strong nylon cord, energy snack, matches and a butane lighter, safety pins, gauze and adhesive tape for injuries, water bottle
  • Good ideas: Wrap duct tape several times around your poles; unwrap it for making splints. Carry a compass, tiny flashlight and/or candle & matches, ankle brace (brand: Active Ankle)

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