Extreme conditions and fast speeds are what make riding so much fun, but they come with risks.
When you ride with your family and friends, you need to be aware of potential risks. A modern snowmobile can weigh over 600 pounds and travel up to 90 mph. Due to poor judgment, excess speed, and alcohol — approximately 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries occur every year.
But this does not mean riding is dangerous. You can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip while protecting yourself from the potential hazards of riding with these 5 snowmobile safety tips:
1. Check for Weather Conditions
We all know that a little snowfall and some wind can make a ride even more interesting, but before going out, make sure that you aren’t riding into dangerous weather conditions. High winds, low temperatures, and extreme snowfalls are known contributors to injuries and even fatal accidents.
2. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Alcohol is a leading cause of snowmobile accidents in the USA. In Minnesota alone, alcohol has been connected to 70% of the accidents which have ended in a death. Support zero alcohol consumption and do not ride with anyone who is consuming alcohol.
3. Never Ride Alone
When you are out on the trail, anything can happen. In some circumstances, your vehicle may break down in the middle of nowhere or maybe you could hit an unseen obstacle in the snow and knock yourself out. Whatever it is that might happen, bringing one or more people can prevent accidents that otherwise could have led to fatalities.
4. Dress for Safety
During your ride, you will be facing wind chill factors. As well, if you bring cotton clothing, you run the risk of getting wet and having your clothes freeze. This will drastically lower your safety. Furthermore, if you do not bring UV-protected sunglasses, goggles, or visor, the sun can affect your ability to see and permanently damage your vision.
Here is how you can stay protected:
- Multiple layers are safer than one thick layer. Wear multiple layers under your suit made of polyester, silk, or other synthetic blends. Do not wear cotton.
- Use a Snowmobile suit. These suits are specially made to withstand cold, wind chill, and frostbite. Popular materials consist of Acrylic, Gore-Tex or other synthetic materials
- Wear a full-face helmet. These completely cover your face, have a chin guard, and keep you warm. Make sure it is an approved helmet that will protect you from
serious head injuries.
- Wear a face mask on very cold days. Some days are much too cold for just a helmet. A face mask will prevent frostbite and other problems that may occur.
- Wear UV-protected eye protection. Your goggles or glasses will protect your eyes from debris, branches, and sunlight.
- Wear warm gloves that repel water. Your hands are susceptible to frostbite, especially if your gloves become wet.
- Never wear cotton socks. Your feet are also susceptible to frostbite. You can use thin nylon, polypropylene, fleece, wool, silk, or synthetic blends.
- Wear snowmobile boots. Choose boots that fit well and are comfortable for all day driving. As well, they should keep your feet warm and be high enough to repel snow.
5. Practice Prevention
Depending on your trail, there may be certain situations to prepare for. Here are some to take note of: hypothermia, avalanches, falling through ice, and vehicle repair.
Before you set out on your adventure, ask yourself if you are prepared for the challenges of your trail. If there are frozen lakes, mountains that can cause avalanches, long riding distances, or anything else you can think of, be sure to research and prepare for those issues. Safety first, fun second!
Going out on the trail helps us get away from the responsibilities of life and lets us face nature at her finest. It can be a beautiful and invigorating experience, but you need to be prepared. Know how long your trail is, understand how long the journey will take you, and pack all the gear you need to stay warm and safe.
Safe riding everyone!
Recent notice (2017): If you own a 2007, 2008, or 2009 Arctic Cat, there has been a recall. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “The fuel tank can crack and fuel can leak into the engine compartment, posing a fire hazard.”