Snowmobile Fun and Safety

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picture via essentialtreesources. com

picture via essentialtreesources. com

There’s no doubt that snowmobiles are a fun and exhilarating winter sport, but along with the fun comes risk. Each year there are snowmobiling accidents and fatalities. In Minnesota alone, there were 212 accidents and 19 fatalities in 2011. A large number, over 70 percent, of these accidents involved alcohol. So how do you stay safe on the trails and enjoy playing in the snow? Keep reading for the essential do’s and don’ts of snowmobile safety.

DO check the condition of your equipment before heading out. A good checklist includes checking the throttle, belt, lights, brakes, skis, fuel and battery. If you have an emergency kit on the sled, make sure that it’s well-stocked with essentials such as a flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.

DON’T combine snowmobiling with alcohol. As stated above, a large amount of snowmobiling accidents involve alcohol. An inebriated snowmobile driver has the same problems as a drunk driver on the roads, including impaired balance, reactions and concentration. Don’t just avoid alcohol yourself, but also avoid riding with those who have imbibed.

DO dress appropriately. Dressing for snowmobiling is not just about safety, but potentially also about survival. Wear plenty of layers to stay warm and dry. Always wear gloves, a helmet and goggles. Make sure the helmet is an approved DOT helmet. Gloves and goggles keep the elements out and increase safety.

DON’T ride too long and be cautious about riding at night. The longer you ride, the more your concentration dulls. The assault on the senses during snowmobiling tends to dull your concentration over a long period of time. Take breaks every few hours to keep it sharp. It’s generally not a good idea to snowmobile at night, but if you do, make sure not to overdrive your lights so you can see obstacles in plenty of time to avoid a collision.

DO stay on the trails if you’re participating in a snowmobile event (ex. a large race featured in Idaho Falls Magazine or some of the events Red Bull sponsors). There are two main reasons for staying on trails while snowmobiling. One is simply safety. The trails were made for a reason. The second is that trespassing tends to be a big complaint regarding snowmobiles and you could be ruining it for everyone else if you venture into private property. It’s also important to respect the wildlife and staying on the trails can help this.

DON’T ride on ice. In general it’s best to avoid frozen lakes and rivers, but if you do, make sure you’re prepared by wearing a life jacket over the rest of your clothing. Avoid ice with a visible current beneath it or nearby, as the ice is likely to be weak. However, be aware that it is impossible to tell how strong ice is just by looking at it. The best policy is to stay safe and avoid it entirely.

DO make sure someone else knows your plans. Have a contact that you call before leaving and call back when returning. Make sure they know what time without a call should be cause for concern. Make sure they also know your route. Another good reason to stay on the trails: if you’re in an accident, rescuers will know where to look.

DON’T be tense while riding. Keep your machine flexible by being loose and limber as you ride. When you turn, look in the direction you want to go and do it with your entire head. Use your lower body to guide the machine and not your arms.

Using these tips you can have a blast and still stay safe on the trails!

Bio –

This guest post contribution was made by SnoWest Magazine which features articles, reviews and equipment for your snowmobiling enthusiast including Polaris Snowmobiles and more.

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