To avoid unnecessary searches, always ski/board with a companion or make arrangements to meet with other skiers and boarders.

  • Let someone know before you go. Indicate your intended destination and route – this is especially important for cross-country skiers.
  • Stick to the planned arrangements. If you do not, others will become concerned and call out emergency services. This endangers the lives of others searching for someone who is not lost.

If a companion becomes lost

  • Make sure your companion hasn’t just returned home to the holiday accommodation, ski lodge or car.
  • Inform the Ski Patrol as soon as you are concerned.
  • Give your companions name, age, etc and a full description including any details of your skiing or boarding activities.

What to do if you are lost

  • As soon as you realise that you are lost, stay where you are.
  • Seek shelter. In poor weather conditions, shelter behind trees or rocks and place your crossed skis or board above the position.
  • Make distress signals. Use anything that will attract attention, eg smoke, whistles, flashing a mirror or torch, or distinct waving of clothing.
  • Identify your last confirmed position and estimate your present location.
  • Believe your compass. It is more likely to be right than your unaided sense of direction.
  • Decide if you will proceed or if you will camp or bivouac.
  • If your party is still strong and you can set a course which must bring you to a known position in a reasonable time, then you could proceed.
  • If any party member is fatigued or you are not sure of your ability to navigate to known country, then camp or bivouac and await assistance.

Helping the search party

It is best to remain in one place. As aircraft and helicopters are now frequently used in searches, think of how you can best help them to see you. The best place for your survival camp is on the edge of a clearing where you can easily move out from the shelter to attract attention. A smoky fire is a good location marker. Also, display brightly coloured clothing and tents. Wait for rescue. If you have made meeting arrangements with others, as you should, the Ski Patrol and other rescuers will know where to look and rescue will be close at hand.

Helicopters may be called in to rescue you in extreme circumstances. Keep well clear of the helicopter’s landing area and await instructions from the pilot. Never approach helicopters from the rear.


Emergencies are often the result of poor planning and/or foolhardy behaviour. If you do find yourself in difficulties, stop and think. Knowledge of your own capabilities is an important safety factor. Individual skills and fitness levels vary greatly. What is quite safe for one person to attempt may be foolhardy for someone else. Know your capabilities and keep well within them at all times.

For ambulance, police and fire emergencies, call ‘000’ or contact your local ski patrol.

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