Let me start by saying that in all my years skiing with my children (and we’re coming up on 15 years of snowy fun and togetherness), my kids never fell off a chairlift.
Yes, there were plenty of times when I was scared:
- The first lift ride with an instructor (silly me, there’s no one better to ride with kids than experienced instructors),
- The first ride with me (silly me again, lift operators will totally help a nervous mom), and
- The first time my kids rode alone with other kids (okay, for that one I was legitimately nervous).
Still, while most kids are stoked for their first chairlift ride, many parents are, like me, a little worried.
But we don’t have to be.
Talk to the Pros
No one gets on and off chairlifts with children more than ski and snowboard instructors. They do it all day long, all season long and they teach their tips to kids.
As a parent, you can reinforce these same basic tips.
Back to Back, Seat to Seat.
Little kids have short legs, so they naturally want to sit on the edge of the seat and bend their knees. Not a good idea.
Instead, make sure your child has their back to the chair back and their seat firmly in the chair seat.
When you get on the lift pull your child all the way back into the seat, or ask a lift operator to help you by pulling them into the seat from behind.
To make it really easy, get a vest with a loop you (or a liftie) can grab. Kinderlift makes a handy vest used by lots of ski schools and available to all.
Relax and Speak Up.
Even if a lift line is long, if you or your child are not ready to get on, let the chair go by.
If you’re concerned about a fast fixed-grip lift, ask the lift operator to slow it down. In the end, boarding the lift safely saves everyone time.
Be on Your Best Behavior.
Most kids love chairlifts. They are fun and exciting, perfect for telling stories, laughing at jokes, eating snacks and singing songs.
But chairlifts are not a good place to wiggle, bounce or turn around to wave at the children in the next chair.
We can’t control what our kids do when they’re riding without us. So it’s extra important to model good behavior and explain to kids why leaning way out to try and touch a lift pole (for example) is a bad idea.
Easy With The Bar.
Nothing, in my opinion, causes more confusion than trying to get a child safely on a lift at the same time as someone else is trying to lower the comfort bar.
There’s no rush. The bar is there for your comfort, not to add stress or to wallop people in the head. So take your time. Before you bring down the bar, make sure your child is safe and safe and then ask everyone else if they’re ready for the bar.
Teach your older kids to do the same. It’s always nicest to make sure everyone is ready for the bar before you bring it down.
It’s Time to Ski!
Once you’re on the lift, getting off is easy: Raise the bar when prompted by signs. Grab your ski poles in one hand and your child in the other. Stand up together by the Unload Here sign and ski away.
If someone falls (and at some time, they probably will), get the lift operator’s attention. They’ll help you get quickly, and safely, out of the way.
More On Skiing Safety:
- Talk to Your Kids: Skiing Safety and Skiing Safely, January 12, 2015.
- Tips from a Pro: Ski and Snowboard Safety for Families, April 7, 2014.
- Risks, Rewards and Responsibility: The Three “R’s” of Skiing Safety, December 11, 2013.
- Ski Safety: What’s a Wide Berth, August 6, 2012.
- Ski Safety: Know the Code from A to Z, November 21, 2011.
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