Families and friends often choose snow tubing as a fun alternative to skiing when visiting ski resorts. Generally, participants experience good memories and fun, but warnings about the dangerous risks associated with the activity often go ignored. Higher speeds than skiing can be achieved, depending on the conditions. And because of the lack of ability to steer or break, loss of control can occur leading to accidents.
Accidents can include broken bones, head injuries, open cuts, and collisions with natural and man-made objects and other participants of the activity.
In 2011, a teen-aged girl from Ohio died after injuries from a tubing accident at Deer Valley Ski Resort, in Park City, UT. The tub veered off the trail and into a tree where she and a friend sustained serious injuries.
In 2007, a college student died after losing control and colliding into a tree at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in New Hampshire.
In addition to loss of control, injuries from tubing accidents can occur because of negligent care of the hill and dangerous conditions, turning a fun activity into a nightmare. For instance, an investigation conducted by NBC Connecticut found that the Woodbury Ski Resort in Connecticut currently has seven pending law suits because of accidents at the hill and over the past ten years has had nine complaints filed with the State Bureau of Elevators regulating the lifts stating that the area puts participants at risk of injury.
Injuries from the accidents specifically at Woodbury include broken ribs, bruised lung, broken foot, gashed head, injured back and unconsciousness. The owner of the tubing hill maintained that this particular accident would not have occurred if the participants would have followed the rules. However, many other lawsuits are currently pending against the area for cases when the hill should have been closed after the trail became dangerously icy, sending one group through a fence and off a 20 foot fall.
Tips for a safer tubing experience:
- Wear a helmet. Winter helmets are often associated with skiing or snowboarding, but similar conditions exist for tubing, and high speeds can be achieved depending on conditions. Even if helmets are simply recommended, consider voluntarily taking extra precautions to protect yourself. Added benefit: you’ll stay warmer!
- Bundle up! Make sure you wear warm clothing to protect from freezing conditions and being frost bitten.
- Do your research before you go. Read reviews and find out if the staff is attentive, and if they follow safety protocol and ensure a safe experience for all guests.
- If icy conditions exist, proceed with caution. As we have found here, the tubing hill being open does not simply mean that it is safe to participate. Accidents can occur because of the negligence of the tubing area and failure to close when dangerous conditions exist.