With the sight of snow, comes the sound of snowmobiles. Snowmobiling is a favourite pastime of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Snowmobiles are even used as a form of everyday transportation in some communities. Although snowmobiling is fun, and often practical, it can also be extremely dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not in place.
When operating a snowmobile, be aware of electrical hazards. Utility providers discourage people from travelling over power line right-of-ways given the risks involved; however, if you do find yourself on a right-of-way, you should be especially cautious of the dangerous conditions that exist on them, such as guy wires and poles, unexpected pits and drops, uneven terrain, etc. These hazards may be especially hard to see during winter conditions. In the winter, guy wires can sometimes be difficult to see after a heavy snowfall. It's important to be extra cautious. The safest option is to only use marked trails. In addition, stay away from rivers, ponds and lakes, especially near hydroelectric facilities and reservoirs.
Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind before heading out on your snowmobile.
How to prepare checklist:
- Make sure to have a full tank of gas.
- Check to see that both tail lights and headlights are working properly.
- Do a pre-season check-up to make sure the snowmobile is functioning properly.
- Make sure there are no cracks in your helmet and it fits correctly.
- Pack an emergency safety kit.
- Make sure to let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you will be returning.
- Check current and predicted weather forecast.
- Do all required maintenance work.
- Make sure snowmobile is registered and insured.
What to include in emergency safety kit:
- A small toolkit
- High energy food
- First aid kit
- Extra fuel
- Waterproof matches
- A flashlight
- Extra socks
- Sweater and a shovel
- An axe
- Extra spark plugs
- A map
As a snowmobiler you have the responsibility to ride in a manner that is both legal and respectful.
- Be aware of utility poles and guy wires.
- Keep speed down.
- Give an uphill rider the right of way when traveling downhill.
- Don't drink and ride.
- Slow down when passing parked objects, such as cars and other snowmobiles.
- Keep to the right when riding on trails.
For more information on snowmobile trails in Newfoundland and Labrador visit: http://www.white-wolf.net/home/trail_maps.htm
In case of an emergency:
If you break down, or you, or someone else become injured keep these tips in mind:
- Remain calm, if in a group; reassure those who are stressed that everything is going to be alright.
- Avoid traveling anywhere on foot in deep snow. Areas traveled by snowmobile in 20-30 minutes could take 2-3 hours to walk.
- Make sure to stay warm and conserve energy.
- Call for help, if there is no reception, signal for helping by making a fire, whistle, flare.
Watch this video to learn some tips on how to save your life if you happen to fall through the ice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5NJZYxuTvU
For more information on snowmobile safety please visit http://nlsf.org/cms/the-weather-network/snowmobile-safety/#safety-SRS