Safety Tips for Snowmobile Riding
If you love snowmobiling, you're probably more focused on white gold and fresh powder than snowmobile safety. However, snowmobile accidents account for nearly 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries every year. Fortunately, you can avoid most accidents and injuries by exercising good judgment, maintaining an appropriate speed, and refraining from drinking. Before you head out to the trails, here are some ways to prevent injuries and practice sound snowmobile safety this season.
Carry Emergency Supplies
Snowmobile safety starts with proper planning, so you're always ready for an emergency. Keep a freshly stocked first kit in your snowmobile, water and snacks, and a GPS beacon or a signaling device to make it easy to find you. An emergency radio, lighter or matches, foldable shovel, and extra tools like a hatchet and tools for your snowmobile could end up being a lifesaver.
Check the Conditions Before You Leave
Check the weather and trail conditions before you head out for the day, even if you already did the night before. The wind chill and weather pattern could have changed and left you in a dangerous situation. If you're on the fence, skip any marginal weather and plan to go on another day when the conditions are more stable and trail-friendly.
Wear Layers and Protective Gear
Wearing appropriate layers and gear is a must for snowmobile safety. Even if you don't get stranded on the trails, wearing layers that don't wick moisture and keep you warm could lead to issues on your ride. You may be too uncomfortable to continue or could end up sweating and producing bacteria that grows on your skin. The right protective gear, like helmet and goggles, could also mean the difference between a minor injury and one that results in a hospital stay.
Tell Someone Your Plans
It's always best to snowmobile with a buddy; if one sled ends up out of commission, the other can go and get help. Whether you go with a friend or fly solo, tell someone your plans of when you're headed out, when you will be back, and what trails you're exploring. If you don't return around the time you indicated, your friends and family can alert the authorities and get help.
Avoid Frozen Rivers
Snowmobile safety means staying on the trails and avoiding riding across the ice. Early spring and the end of the snowmobiling season is never a good time to attempt to cross-ice. Even crossing during deep freeze conditions is poor because conditions can change quickly, or the ice may already damage or crack.
Snowmobile safety requires good common sense and avoiding reckless behavior. Never drink and drive, don't go off trails, and don't challenge friends to a race across the powder. Always exercise caution and think of your snowmobile as a machine to be enjoyed, not an outlet for a daredevil challenge.
Take a Snowmobiling Safety Class
Even experienced pros can benefit from a snowmobiling safety class. Many classes can be completed online and update you on and offer a refresher on issues like night riding precautions, snowmobile safety, and responsibility.
Snowmobile safety is part of shredding the trails every year and should be taken seriously. Come with the right supplies, plan, and gear in place for an outing that's as safe as it is exhilarating.