7 Safety Tips for Snowmobilers
A snowy trail may be just what you’ve been waiting for if you’re a snowmobiler. But before you head out for a day on your snowmobile, it’s important to be prepared.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) offers a series of safety tips. They include:
1. Do Preventative Maintenance
Make sure your snowmobile is in proper working order before each ride. Follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual and ask your local snowmobile organization about any safety or maintenance programs it may offer. The Safe Riders! Snowmobile Awareness Safety Program, which ISMA sponsors, offers a pre-ride checklist to help you get started.
2. Wear Proper Attire
Be prepared for changing weather conditions by dressing in layers, with windproof gear on the outside. You can remove or add layers as needed. In addition, wear warm gloves and help protect your head and your vision with a safety-certified helmet, sun protection goggles and a visor.
3. Bring a Friend
Use the buddy system. You never know when it may prove helpful to have another person with you out on the trails.
4. Follow Rules of the Road
Use caution when crossing any road. Coming to a complete stop, ensuring no vehicles are coming from any direction and crossing at a right angle may help you travel safely.
5. Communicate Carefully
It’s a good idea to clearly communicate your plans to others. That includes leaving your planned route with friends or relatives before you head out so they can send for help if you don’t return on schedule. And, once you’re on the trails, be sure to use hand signals to communicate with other nearby snowmobilers and drivers.
6. Remain Alert
Keep your eyes on the vehicle ahead of you rather than on its taillights. When you watch the taillights, you’re less likely to notice if the snowmobiler in front of you swerves a bit to avoid hitting something. Also, if it’s dark or overcast, be sure to drive slowly enough to see what your headlights reveal.
7. Avoid Frozen Water
Don’t ride your snowmobile over a frozen lake or river. You may risk falling through the ice or having much less traction that you do on snow. In addition, if other snowmobilers enter the ice from another direction, collisions may result.
A snowmobile trip can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to make safety a priority, too. Being prepared and making smart choices can go a long way toward safe, good times out on the snow.
Originally published on January 16, 2012.