Important Snowmobile Safety Tips for Injury Prevention
Riding a snowmobile or a sled comes with a lot of danger and this is why the snowmobile safety tips were created in order for the riders to be guided and so they can enjoy a safe ride.
Snowmobiling is one of the most favored winter sports activities all over the world. It is truly exciting to ride this vehicle while enjoying the beautiful winter views. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been seriously injured each year while snowmobiling.
Head injuries are pretty common, and are considered as the leading cause of serious injury and death among snowmobile riders. So to ensure a safe ride, here are the safety tips to keep in mind.
Be a Defensive Driver
As always, when it comes to driving any vehicle, the best way to avoid potential danger is to always be alert. Remember that you will be wearing a helmet and this can already impair your sense of hearing. Your visibility will also be reduced because of the blowing snow, snowfall and most especially if you are driving at night.
Do not assume that another snowmobile driver will be defensive. So to ensure your safety and that of the other riders as well, make sure that you practice being a defensive driver whenever you drive your snowmobile in the slopes. Always expect the unexpected in everything. It’s just the same as learning how to be safe with fire even if you don’t know when a fire is going to happen.
Do Not Drink and Drive
We all have heard this before – drinking alcohol can lead to accidents on the road. Just like with driving any type of motor vehicle, snowmobiling will require your full attention, alertness and utmost attention. Your reaction time as well as your ability to control your vehicle will have drastic affects on the manner you drive, even if you consume only a small amount of alcohol. Alcohol could affect one’s reaction time and perception, as well as the ability to respond to unexpected situations.
Alcohol is said to be the number one contributing factor in various fatal accidents involving a snowmobile. When you drink alcohol, your body’s temperature will drop in an accelerated rate and this increases your susceptibility to hypothermia and cold.
Snowmobiles have the ability to get access to remote locations, which is far away from help. If an emergency situation will occur and an immediate help is required, your chances of survival could be affected.
Moreover, immediate treatment of injury may not be possible. Do not ever let alcohol to be a factor to your fate. Just like with avoiding car accident, the best way to avoid snowmobile accident is to avoid alcohol.
Slow Down When Driving At Night
The number one problem with driving at night is the reduced visibility due to darkness. It will be much more difficult to identify any potential hazards when driving in the dark. Thus, you must make sure to slow down when snowmobiling at night.
It is also a good idea to ride along with people who are very much familiar with the area. Moreover, make sure to wear appropriate outer clothing. It should have reflective trimmings on the arm, at the back part and on the helmet. Avoid driving a snowmobile alone at night. Dress in your full snowmobile gear at all times even if your destination is just close by.
Make sure that all your lights are in good condition or operational before you head out to drive at night. Keep in mind that hand signals will be very difficult to see at night.
Be Extra Cautious When Riding in the Ice
Drowning is a leading cause of death among snowmobile accidents. So as much as possible, avoid riding your snowmobile on frozen rivers and lakes since the ice conditions on these bodies of water are never guaranteed. The condition of the ice can change from time to time, in only a period of a few hours.
If you need to cross the ice, make sure to stay on a packed or marked trail. Do not ever stop until you have reached the shore. If you end up hitting slush, do not let off the throttle. If you need to follow someone who hits slush, drive away to create your own path.
If you need to travel over rivers and lakes, consider wearing a buoyant suit that can help you to arrive at the nearest ice surface. It is also a good idea to bring with you a set of picks so you can get a grip of the edge of the ice even more easily.
The rule is that if you do not know the area, and then do not go. This rule is also applicable to skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor winter sports. Thus, one of the skiing safety tips is to never venture out to an area that’s not familiar to you.
If you do end up breaking the ice, do not panic. Here are the things you can do to rescue yourself.
- Kick vigorously to a horizontal position and swim towards the nearest edge of the ice. Place your arms and hands on any ice that’s not broken while kicking very hard at the same time in order to propel your body onto the ice, just like what seals do.
- Once everything is clear, stay flat and gently roll away towards a much stronger ice.
- Stand straight and keep on moving to look for a nearby shelter.
How to Avoid Hypothermia
Another risk that you could face when snowmobiling is hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when your body’s core temperature decreases faster. This can happen in land or water. It does not require extreme cold and could accelerate along with wetness and wind.
The best way to avoid hypothermia is to dress warmly with layers that are made of water resistant materials. But once immersed, replace your wet clothes quickly and keep on moving in order for your body to be able to generate heat. Most importantly look for an immediate shelter to keep warm.
As mentioned, hypothermia could happen if you stay longer in snow. Thus, the tip above is also applicable if you want to stay safe when playing any winter sports.
Snow Blindness and Frostbite
Aside from hypothermia, a snowmobile rider is also at high risk to snow blindness and frostbite. Snow blindness happens if there is a direct sun glare reflecting to the eyes and is just too bright. Therefore, it is highly advisable that a snowmobiler wears a high quality UV-protected goggles and sunglasses or visor.
Frostbite is a result of freezing temperature and poor circulation. Therefore, it is important that you cover up and layer yourself well, while making sure that your socks will fit loosely inside your boots. Remember that mitts that have liners are a better option since it is warmer than gloves.
When it comes to choosing the right outfit for snowmobiling, consider the fact that your forward motion can add to the chill factor of the wind. Thus, you should avoid wearing sweatshirts and cottons that have the ability to retain moisture. Try to look for suits that are made of windproof and waterproof materials. Bring extra clothing with you for layering. Above all, keep these snowmobile safety tips in mind.