Across North America, snow means snowmobile season. More than 10 million people enjoy snowmobiling each year. As fun and exciting as
snowmobiling can be, it can also be dangerous. Because snowmobiles are relatively easy to operate, the hazards associated with them are often overlooked or minimized. Here are some tips to help keep you safe as you are experiencing the thrill of snowmobiling this winter.
Alcohol impedes your decision-making capabilities. Your safety depends on your ability to make sound judgments and react quickly to your surroundings, and you simply cannot do this when you’re drinking. Alcohol plays a part in more than 70% of snowmobile accidents—don’t become a statistic.
Be a Safe Rider
The weather and terrain snowmobilers encounter (and the speed at which they encounter them) call for extra attention to safety and an awareness of your surroundings. Wind, sun, and cold can all take their toll on riders and passengers alike. Follow these steps:
- Know your abilities – Be realistic about your skills and capabilities as an operator. Pushing your limits can be fun and satisfying but biting off more than you can chew on the trail can have deadly consequences.
- Know your machine’s abilities – Don’t push your snowmobile beyond its designed limits. This can lead to breakdowns or accidents.
- Know the area – Become familiar with the area you’ll be riding in. Talk to the locals. Get a map. Find out about any avalanche hazards you may encounter.
- Know more – Continue learning about your sport and your machine. Read your owner’s manual and other material published by the manufacturer; these can be invaluable. Also, snowmobile clubs can not only impart information but offer activities to keep you involved (Check out ISMA, for example).
Maintain Your Sled
Your owner’s manual will guide you through your pre-ride inspection to make sure your machine is in good working order. It also contains a maintenance schedule that you should follow with exactness to keep your machine running at its best. No one wants to end up stranded with a broken snowmobile.
Wear layers of clothing to keep yourself warm and dry. Gloves, boots, and a windproof outer layer are essential. Wear a safety-certified helmet that fits correctly. If your helmet doesn’t have a visor, wear goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris and the sun.
Other helpful tips include the following:
- Take care of the trail
- Stay alert
- Beware of darkness
- Beware of water
Good luck and stay safe!