For the first time in years, California slopes are covered in snow. Understandably, this has avid snowboarders and skiers all over the country excited and ready to hit the slopes.

But skiing and snowboarding are risky sports, and sometimes unfortunate accidents happen. In November, a college student visiting from Ohio died while skiing at Bear Mountain, a ski resort near Big Bear Lake in Southern California. According to her friends, the 21 year old woman was a once-avid skier who hadn’t been on the slopes for a while, and so had been sticking with smaller, safer runs. While finishing a run, she lost control and crashed into a stairway. Medical personnel performed CPR, and she was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead an hour after the accident.

Any activity can end tragically, and it’s important to get out and have an active lifestyle. But we want everyone to enjoy their say in the snow, and come home safe and sound. Here are a few tips that skiers and snowboarders should follow in order to stay safe while out on the slopes.

Check your gear.

Many accidents are caused by gear malfunctions, such as bindings not being set properly. Always double check and make sure everything is working properly before you hit the lift. If you are a beginner, check with the staff at your resort’s help desk. They’ll almost certainly be able to assist you.

Know your limits.

It’s easy to get over-eager. But don’t head out on slopes that exceed your skill level. Make sure you’ve mastered one level of difficulty before moving onto the next.

Wear a helmet.

It’s easy to get going fast when you’re heading down a snow-covered hill, and many runs are covered in obstacles such as rocks, trees, fences, railings, and oh yeah, other skiers. Most of these obstacles are a good deal harder than your skull. So always wear a helmet.

Rest frequently, and eat properly.

Skiing and snowboarding are exhausting sports. Many accidents occur when people push their bodies too hard. You reaction times, strength, and balance will be negatively impacted if you don’t take the time to rest, as well as eat and drink as necessary to replenish your spent calories and fluids.

If you’re tired, then it’s time to quit.

It can be hard to let go. Everyone wants to get that one last run in before they have to head home. But safe skiing and snowboarding depend upon your body reacting when you need it to. If your legs are starting to drag and your muscles are aching, then it’s time to release your bindings and head for somewhere warm.

We hope that you have a great time up in the snow, and that you come home happy and safe.