Winter Ride: Snowmobile Safety Tips [SLIDESHOW]
Tuesday, January, 8th, 2013 at 6:00 am
With winter right around the corner, snowmobile season is almost here. There’s nothing quite like zooming over the sparkling snow in a snowmobile, and it’s a lot of fun — but it’s also important to keep safety in mind.
Here are some tips to help keep snowmobilers safe this winter.
Avoid Riding at Night
Although some people think riding a snowmobile in the dark adds to the fun, it also adds to the danger. The darkness decreases visibility, making it harder to see potential hazards. If you do choose to ride at night, be sure to check that all your lights work before heading out and drive at a speed that provides you with enough reaction time to avoid hazards.
Don't Drink and Ride
Much like drinking and driving, drinking and riding presents some serious safety concerns. It slows reaction time, which could potentially lead to a serious accident. Although you may think it's harmless to have a drink before you ride, you should leave the booze at home and enjoy the ride sober.
Paying attention is one of the most important things when riding a snowmobile. Not only will there likely be other people on the trail, but there are trees and animals, as well. You want to do everything you can to avoid a collision. It is also important to remember that riding for long stretches lowers your reaction time.
Never Ride Alone
The buddy system is one good way to help limit some safety issues when you're riding a snowmobile. If one of you gets into trouble, the other will be able to go for help. If you do ride alone, it is important to tell others where you plan to ride so they can send help if they suspect something has happened.
Dress Properly, Not Fashionably
Lots of people like to dress to impress -- but frostbite won't impress anyone. Be sure to wear clothing and gear that will protect you most from the bitter cold. Warm gloves, goggles and a windproof outer layer are all essential for avoiding frostbite. Helmets are also a good idea.
Avoid Riding on Lakes and Rivers
Make sure you know about any bodies of water -- lakes, rivers, ponds or creeks -- in the area where you plan to ride your snowmobile. It's not easy to tell how thick the ice is on a frozen body of water, and you don't want to learn the hard way. Avoid riding over any bodies of water to help avoid drowning risk.
Stay on the Trail
While it may seem like an adventure to go off the trail and explore, it is best to stay on it. It's impossible to know what you will run into when you ride off the beaten path. Yogi Bear may be cute in the cartoons -- but you really don't want to run into a bear in real life. Stick to the trail to help avoid unknown dangers that could result in accidents or injury.
Before you hit the trail, take some precautions in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have a cellphone or other means of communication in case you need to call for help. Let someone know where you plan to go, in case the unexpected happens and someone has to come and find you.
Safety tips can be helpful in the moment, but it’s equally important to be prepared. Proper preparation for the snowy season can include the right snowmobile insurance coverage. Make sure you’re covered before you rev up your engine.
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