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Chairlift Safety

Chairlift Safety

In BC, 60% of chairlift-related accidents happen because passengers aren’t behaving safely.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro, a first-timer, or parents heading out with young kids for the first time, we recommend you take a few minutes to review our top safety tips for keeping you and your family safe on the slopes this winter season.

Chairlift safety tips

Preparing to load

  • If you’re a skier, always remove your pole straps and make sure to point your ski tips down and forward; snowboarders, undo your back foot from your board before joining the line so that you can maneuver yourself to the lift
  • Make sure all loose items are secured (think: gloves, goggles, cell phone) – so that nothing gets dropped or can get caught on the lift
  • If you have a backpack, make sure you remove it prior to loading
  • When loading, move up to the marked line following the chair in front of you, and keep an eye out for your chair coming around the corner to pick you up
  • If you fall while loading the chair, make sure you stay down until the operator instructs you to get up

During your ride

  • Make sure you always lower the restraint bar on your chair lift - but don’t forget to let other riders know before you do so!
  • Always sit as far back in your seat as possible so that you are fully supported by the back of the chair
  • Do not swing or bounce on the chair, lean forward or adjust your boots, skis, or snowboard, or make any attempts to touch trees or towers
  • Watch for and follow all instruction signs along the way

Unloading the chair

  • Never lift the restraint bar before you reach the “raise the bar sign” as your approach the top of the chairlift
  • Keep the tips of your skis or snowboard up as you approach the “unload here” sign
  • When you reach the top stand up and slide down the ramp and clear the unload area as quickly as possible
  • If you leave something behind, clear the unload point and let the lift operator know so they can stop the chair when it is safe to do so
  • If you don’t unload in time, stay on the chair. The operator or the safety gate will stop the chairlift and the lift operator will help you

Riding the chairlift with your kids

Skiing or snowboarding is a great family activity and a wonderful way to spend time with your kids. Parents with first-time skiers or boarders know that riding the chairlift with their little ones can be a bit daunting at first. Here are a few words of advice:

  • Take the time to watch the chairlift in action with your kids so they get a feel for how everything works
  • If possible, keep your child on the attendant side of the lift or in between two adults so that help is available when loading or unloading from the chair if necessary. You can always ask the attendant to slow the lift down to make sure you have time to get on and off safely
  • Make sure your child sits all the way back in their seat and keep the bar down for the entire ride until instructed to lift it back up
  • Once you reach the top, instruct your child to slide forward and then stand up to unload
  • When you’re off the chair, move to the side and away from the chairlift as quickly as possible to clear the way for the riders behind you

T-bars and conveyors

On your trip up the mountain, you may also encounter other conveyors such as a t-bar or a button pull. Here are a few quick tips for riding these conveyors safely:

  • Be on alert - these pulleys come around quickly to scoop you up. Keep an eye on the bar or button as it comes around the corner and be ready to grab hold
  • Once aboard, stay standing for the entire ride. Relax and allow the lift to support you on your way up
  • Keep your skis or snowboard moving straight along the track without weaving. If you fall, make sure to clear the track as quickly as you can
  • Unload only at the designated unloading area – do not get off before the “unload here” sign

Have you witnessed an incident or hazard on a ski lift?

Report an incident

Alpine Responsibility Code

There are elements of risk that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Regardless of how you decide to use the slopes, always show courtesy to others. Please adhere to the Canada West Ski Areas Association Alpine Responsibility Code and share with your fellow skiers and boarders.


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