Snowmobiles are extremely popular during winter, with hundreds of thousands being registered in the U.S. and Canada alone. While snowmobiles are relatively simple to operate and are great recreational vehicles, they can also be utilized for serious tasks, such as search and rescue operations in snow-covered areas that are inaccessible by larger vehicles. Just like any other vehicle, there are always risks involved in operating a snowmobile, you’ll want to read the following guidelines to prevent snowmobile-related injuries.
Snowmobile Safety Tips: How To Prevent Injuries
Like all manner of vehicles, snowmobiles are subject to breakdowns and other mechanical problems. The last thing you want is to be out riding your snowmobile, only to have it suddenly break down in an unpopulated area, requiring you to call for assistance. Malfunctions also increase the risk of accidents and injuries, so you’ll want to make sure that your snowmobile is inspected by a trusted mechanic at least once a year. The best time to do so is during fall, before the winter season hits. This allows you to make sure it is in good condition and get it repaired if it isn’t. Having maintenance done also helps you identify potential manufacturing defects, which could also cause injuries.
Avoid High Speeds and Racing
The temptation to drive your snowmobile at high speeds, maybe even get in a quick race with your buddies, may be attractive to adrenaline junkies, but it should absolutely be avoided. The average snowmobile can top out at speeds of 95 mph to 120 mph, but the most powerful models can reach speeds of 150 mph. The problem with operating your snowmobile at such speed is that you’ll most likely be moving over uneven terrain, strewn with rocks of all shapes and sizes, as well as falling debris from trees and bushes in the surrounding environment, much of which are likely to be concealed by the snow. Running over or hitting any of these objects can easily cause your snowmobile to flip over, resulting in serious injuries to yourself.
Use Protective Clothing and Carry First Aid
People often operate their snowmobiles in remote areas, far from access to medical attention. If you find yourself in a situation where you, a passenger or another rider has sustained injuries, having first aid equipment on hand, and knowing how to use it, can be potentially lifesaving. It is also essential to wear protective clothing. This isn’t just to protect from the cold, but in the event of a collision, such clothing is also capable of absorbing some impact. This includes a helmet, waterproof boots, and multiple layers of clothing, with gloves or mitts. Remember to pack a flashlight, smartphone, and compass, so that you can navigate in the dark and call for help if the need arises.
Avoid Frozen Lakes or Rivers
This should be obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the risky things some people do. No matter how solid the ice seems, snowmobiles are heavy, with some models weighing several hundred pounds. If you fall through the ice, not only will you lose your snowmobile, but you could also lose your life as a result of hypothermia.
Do Not Drink or Get High
The same rules that apply to all other road-going vehicles should also apply to snowmobiles; don’t even think about drinking and driving or operating your vehicle while inebriated, because no matter how good you are while sober, alcohol and controlled substances greatly inhibit our reflexes and full our senses, increasing the likelihood of an accident.