10 Snowmobile Safety Tips to Follow
10 Snowmobile Safety Tips to Follow
Snowmobiling is one of the most exciting winter activities you can take part in. These vehicles are built to traverse snowy landscapes at thrilling speeds and offer riders a unique rush. If you intend to drive a snowmobile for the first time in the near future, you should get acquainted with the different ways to stay safe.
The truth is that driving a snowmobile can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions. Thousands of people get injured in snowmobile-related accidents each year, and the last thing any outdoor thrill-seeker needs is to sit out the rest of the winter season in a cast. The good news is that it is possible to reduce your chances of running into trouble on your snowmobile by following certain practices.
We have compiled ten of the best snowmobile safety tips from around the internet to help you stay safer once you finally set out to ride on your snowmobile. So let’s get snowmobiling!
1. Check the Weather Forecast
Snowmobiles are designed to be driven in snowy weather. However, even these machines have their limits. If weather conditions are especially harsh, the snowmobile trail may freeze. Snowmobiles aren’t designed for traction on icy trails, so you may end up losing control of the vehicle and getting into an accident if you attempt to drive it on a trail in this condition.
Extreme cold can also be dangerous for snowmobile riders. Be sure to check the wind chill forecast for the times you intend to be out. Chances are, you will experience temperatures even colder than this while riding on your snowmobile.
Attempting to drive a snowmobile in a blizzard is also dangerous due to the cold, the risk of getting stranded, and the fact that your visibility will be greatly reduced in such conditions. For this reason, you should avoid driving your mobile if the weather forecast predicts a blizzard.
2. Wear the Right Gear
Snowmobile riders must ensure they wear the correct gear during their rides. This includes:
- Snowmobile jacket
- Snowmobile bibs and pants
- Snowmobile gloves
- Snowmobile boots
Snowmobile jackets are designed to keep your torso warm and protected from the chilly winds while riding. Many of them are also waterproof to help keep you dry and comfortable if the snow turns to sleet.
Snowmobile Bibs and Pants
Snowmobile bibs and pants are also designed to help keep your body warm while riding your snowmobile. Snowmobile pants typically end at the waist while snowmobile bibs also cover your torso. You should opt for one or the other depending on the type of temperature conditions you expect to encounter on your snowmobile excursion.
Snowmobile gloves are designed to keep your hands protected and often feature liners for added warmth. They also offer dexterity and help you maintain a good grip on your snowmobile’s handlebars. These gloves typically have long cuffs to keep your wrists covered.
Snowmobile boots help keep your feet warm and protected from snow. However, they are also designed to be breathable and keep your ankles safe. Some snowmobile boots are also made to support your legs to reduce fatigue when riding for extended periods.
Snowmobile helmets are comparable to motorcycle helmets because they cover the entire face and provide eye protection. However, they also feature a breath box that directs exhaled air downwards and away from your field of view. They also have air vents to help maintain a comfortable temperature in different conditions.
You will typically need to wear a balaclava under your helmet for maximum protection, so be sure to pick up one of these when you purchase your helmet.
3. Inspect Your Snowmobile
It is vital to inspect your snowmobile before any planned riding activities. Some items to include in your pre-ride checklist are:
- Drive belt condition
- Recoil rope
- Steering system
- Ignition switch
- Parking brake lock
- Brake system
- Ski saddle
- Ski skegs
- Suspension mounting bolts
- Safety switch
- Throttle lever
- Track alignment
- Tether switch
Be sure to check each of these items before hitting the trail for your own protection. Something as minor as a broken light may land you in deep trouble in some situations.
4. Always Plan Your Route
Most snowmobile trails are designed to be safe from drivers, and you’re unlikely to encounter any hidden surprises on a well-maintained trail. However, it’s not uncommon for snowmobilers to veer off the trail in some cases. After all, some trails may not feature clear boundary markers or signs telling you where to go. In these situations, you may end up entering some dangerous areas with poor traction or even avalanche zones.
You can reduce the likelihood of going off trail by planning your intended route beforehand. So be sure to pull up a map of the snowmobile trail and make a note of different markers to look out during your trail excursion.
5. Tell Others Where You Are Going
Even the most experienced snowmobilers put themselves at risk each time they hit the trail. Unexpected encounters or accidents can lead to disaster, so it’s best to tell others where you are going. This means you should always inform a friend or family member about the trail you will be driving through and what time you expect to return.
This safety tip is important because it encourages your friend or family member to send a search party if you don’t return from the trail by a certain time.
6. Follow the Rules
Snowmobilers can improve their chances of staying safe on the trail by following the posted speed limit. Some trails explicitly mention the maximum recommended speeds for different sections.
Some provinces also have maximum speed limits for snowmobiles in all areas. For example, the speed limit for snowmobiles is 50 km/h. This limit is 80 km/h in Saskatchewan. These speed limits are typically set with your own safety in mind, so you should be sure to follow them properly.
7. Avoid Driving on Lakes and Rivers
Some snowmobile riders may be tempted to drive their vehicles over lakes or rivers. Such places can be especially enticing during cold winters when the ice is believed to be several inches thick. However, driving your snowmobile over a lake or river is always a risky move.
Snowmobiles weigh around 220 kg, making them much heavier than the average person. This means a lake or river that is safe to walk on may not be safe to handle a snowmobile. There is no way to tell if the ice is safe for a snowmobile, so you should never take your snowmobile onto a frozen lake or river.
8. Ride With a Friend
If your snowmobile can accommodate a second passenger, you should consider bringing a friend or family member along for the ride. Riding with another person can be safer as they may be able to offer assistance if you get lost or have an accident.
9. Bring a First-Aid Kit Along
If you intend to take your snowmobile for a long ride, you should bring a first-aid kit with you. This kit should include essential items such as hand sanitizer, bandages, disinfecting wipes, adhesive tape, and gauze.
You should also consider bringing other items such as a flashlight, flairs, waterproof matches, a blanket, and snacks with you. Each of these items improve your chances of survival if you get into an accident or get lost.
10. Take a Snowmobile Training Course
Snowmobiles are powerful vehicles capable of driving through harsh terrain. Driving one of these specialty vehicles can be very different from driving a car or an ATV, so riders should familiarize themselves with the proper ways to operate a snowmobile. You can accomplish this by taking a professional snowmobile training course.
A snowmobile training course will teach you the correct way to operate a snowmobile and give you insight into the different kinds of hazards to look out for on the trail. After completing this course, you will feel more confident about driving through different trails and understand how to react in different situations.
Where Can I Purchase or Rent a Snowmobile?
The snowmobile safety tips mentioned above are essential for anyone interested in driving a snowmobile. Both beginners and experienced riders should review the above list before going on their next snowmobiling excursion.
If you’re interested in purchasing or renting a snowmobile, please visit Westshore Marine. We offer various snowmobiles from some of the most trusted manufacturers in North America. Our staff are always eager to help new customers, so please get in touch with us to learn about our product selection or to get help with finding the perfect snowmobile for your needs.