One thousand a day injured on Swiss slopes

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The Independent Online

About 1,000 people a day -- nearly half of them foreign holidaymakers -- are injured in winter sports accidents in Switzerland, according to official data out Monday.

(AFP) -

About 1,000 people a day - nearly half of them foreign holidaymakers - are injured in winter sports accidents in Switzerland, according to official data out Monday.

Every year some 115,000 people are hurt in tumbles, collisions and avalanches while they hurtle down the slopes on skis, snowboards or sledges, an average of about 1,000 a day over the season, according to the Swiss council for accident prevention (BPA).

"More than 40 percent of those who practice a snow sport and are injured in Switzerland, about 45,000 people, are foreign tourists," the BPA said on its winter sports campaign website.

Between 2003 and 2007, an average of 39 people a year died in winter sports accidents, 45 percent of them in avalanches that are often triggered by off- piste skiing, when skiers venture away from secured slopes into the wilderness.

The BPA estimated that winter sport accidents cost about 470 million Swiss francs a year (459 million dollars, 313 million euros), partly through medical costs or loss of productivity from injured employees.

About 90 percent of the injuries are regarded as light, but still sideline people from work for an average of nine days, a period that doubles for those who require more extensive treatment.

Head, wrist and knee injuries abound, mainly due to tumbles, while just four to seven percent are hurt in collisions on densely packed slopes, according to the BPA.

The public agency is trying to promote the systematic use of helmets to cut head injuries and of long gloves to protect the wrists.

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