Winter sports enthusiasts urged to stay safe on the slopes

Bullet has helped their client, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to develop a winter sports safety campaign, targeting winter sports travellers with the aim of reducing preventable problems when they go abroad on their skiing or snowboarding holidays. To date, Bullet has recruited several key partners that are winter sports specialists, including Tui Ski, Eurostar Ski Train, Iglu Ski, Off the Piste, Ski & Trek, Chill Factore, Ski Club of GB and ABTA to help disseminate the key messages to their customers.

This week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) launched two press days in partnership with The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead and the Sno!Zone in Castleford, to encourage local skiers and snowboarders to be prepared before hitting the slopes abroad this winter. Read the small print of your travel insurance, avoid alcohol on the slopes and get fit before you go were the main messages conveyed at a dedicated “Be Safe on the Slopes” session which took place at both snow domes this week.

A survey of the Snow Centre’s members* has revealed that nearly 80% are planning a winter sports holiday over the coming months.

The FCO warns that every year they see numerous incidents where families are faced with huge medical bills following an accident on the slopes. This is often because people have not taken out travel insurance, or have not read the small print of their policy. The costs of an accident on the slopes can be significant – for example a fractured leg in the United States could land you with a medical bill of up to £40,000 and a knee injury in Austria could set you back £8,000**.

The survey also revealed that:

• 22% of snow sports enthusiasts admitted they don’t always read the small print of their travel insurance policy

• 65% wished they’d been in better shape during a previous winter sports holiday• 36% had previously injured themselves on a winter sports holiday

• 40% are considering going off-piste on their next holiday

• 18% admit to taking to the slopes while under the influence of alcohol

Lynda St Cooke from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said:

“We strongly advise anyone hitting the slopes this winter to take out comprehensive travel insurance and make sure you have an up to date EHIC card. Don’t forget to check the small print – most insurance policies will not cover you if you’re under the influence of alcohol or venture off-piste.  If you’re unlucky enough to have an accident and you’re not covered, you could find yourself thousands of pounds out of pocket.”

To raise awareness of the dangers of not being prepared the FCO held a special ‘Be Safe on the Slopes’ session at The Snow Centre and the Sno!Zone Castleford this week, where instructors advised skiers and snowboarders on how to be savvy on the slopes and be physically prepared to help prevent injuries.

Ian Brown, Managing Director at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead said:

“Winter sports holidays can be great fun but preparation is key for a successful holiday.  We would always recommend a few hours getting ‘mountain ready’ before your departure.  Investing in the right insurance policy and a few lessons on real snow to ensure you are competent on the slopes can make all the difference.’

Aidan Harington, Head of Snow School at SNO!zone in Castleford, said:

“Winter sports holidays can be great fun, but of course like with any sport there can be risks involved. But with the right tuition, from qualified instructors, and if the sport is carried out in a safe and responsible manner you can reduce your chances of running into trouble. Not getting cover or the correct instruction beforehand is just not worth the risk. Getting the right insurance policy, taking a few lessons and getting some sessions in at the gym can be the difference between the holiday of a life-time and a holiday from hell.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has teamed up with ABTA and Ski Club GB to issue the following top tips, which you can view by clicking here.

For more information on winter sports holiday advice, visit the FCOs website www.fco.gov.uk/wintersports

* 222 members of The Snow Centre were surveyed between October and November 2011.

** Source: Europ Assistance.