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LARA Director Orlene Hawks Encourages Safety on the Slopes in Michigan

Media Contact: LARA Communications (517-335-LARA (5272))

February 2, 2021 – Orlene Hawks, the director of the Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), reminds Michiganders to take precautions and make safety a top priority before heading out to enjoy some fun on the slopes this ski and snowboard season.

"Whether you are an amateur on the bunny hill or are skilled and experienced on the more challenging hills, please make it a priority to keep safety in mind,” said Hawks. “Safety standards are put in place to help ensure all who enjoy Michigan slopes have a great time and make it home safely.”

Michigan’s winter months bring an opportunity for enthusiasts to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and a handful of other fun activities. LARA oversees the state’s ski safety program which includes oversight of 53 ski areas which encompasses 36 surface lifts,135 chair lifts, and 114 rope tows.

“Know your abilities and those of others in your group,” said Hawks. “Ski or snowboard on trails that are at your skill level and don’t venture off-trail. Going out with a buddy increases the element of safety and assistance if needed. Be aware of your surroundings and potential weather changes. When fatigued, take a break to avoid injury to yourself or others and then hit the slopes again once fully rested.”

Skiers and snowboarders at every ability level are urged to be mindful of a few safety tips to minimize their potential for risk or injury while on the slopes. Safety tips to follow while prepping for the slopes and while on the slopes include:

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Chairlifts, surface lifts, and rope tows can be dangerous if misused.
  • Refresh yourself on the procedures of loading, riding and unloading lifts and tows; if you have questions, ask for help.
  • Learn the layout of the ski areas and slopes and learn what to watch for on the slopes.
  • Rent or buy proper equipment and have ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly.
  • Dress in layers; wear gloves or mittens and wear sunglasses or goggles for eye protection.
  • Warm up properly and take lessons if needed.
  • Stay in control; be able to stop to avoid other people or objects. 
  • Be courteous as people ahead of you have the right of way; it is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • Stop in a safe place for you and others; don't stop where you will obstruct a trail or are not visible from above. 
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment. 
  • Observe all signs and warnings; keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

Michigan's ski lifts are inspected and permitted for operation by LARA to ensure compliance with national standards and the Michigan Ski Area Safety Act of 1962, the first in the nation. LARA staff issues permits to operate, and help ensure safe operation by inspecting ski areas and ski lifts annually, both before and during operation. Michigan law requires that mechanical failures and accidents involving ski lifts be reported.

LARA wishes everyone a safe and fun winter season. For more information, visit LARA's Ski Area Safety website.

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