Becoming familiar with snowmobiling safety tips and proper equipment is the number one step in enjoying your snowmobile excursion while minimizing risk.
The most important thing you can do to stay safe on a snowmobile or any other off-road vehicle is to educate yourself about the terrain you will be riding. Before heading out into the backcountry, scout your path using topographical maps, GPS units, etc. Additionally, it’s best to ride with at least one other person (preferably two) who also has their own snowmobile. If someone were to get lost or separated from the group, they would not be alone without help. A snowmobile safety buddy system can help minimize risk.
Another safety tip is always to wear the proper safety gear to keep you safe while riding. Take these things with you on your next ride and be prepared for any situation which may arise:
- gloves, boots (including insulated socks),
- long-sleeved shirt and pants (preferably water-resistant)
- safety flag
- Cell phone or GPS device
- Water bottle or hydration pack (to stay warm and hydrated, especially if the sunny weather isn’t making it easy!)
- Extra batteries for communication devices
- Map of your planned course (especially helpful if cell service is weak or nonexistent)
- First aid kit
- Extra food and water
- Hand warmers (especially helpful with the cold wind whipping around your face, if it’s windy at all!)
- A sharp knife in case of emergencies (to cut seatbelts, rope, etc. Also handy for improvising splints if someone gets injured.)
- A shovel (to help with rescues or to make a fire pit if necessary)
- Matches/lighter to start fires or keep yourself warm when stranded
If any part of your safety gear does not function properly or becomes damaged, you should replace it immediately. Make sure that all equipment fits properly before heading out onto the trail. It’s important to dress in layers so you can easily adjust when cold or moving fast. Additionally, carrying extra batteries for communication devices is critical if you are in an area without cell phone service.
Keeping your snowmobile maintained will keep it working smoothly; you are always ready to take it out on the trail.
You should take many safety precautions regardless of whether you are a first-time rider or veteran snowmobiler. Some safety tips for first-time riders are to take lessons, find an experienced friend who can teach you the basics, and read up before riding, so you have some idea of what to expect. Additionally, it’s good practice to go over safety measures with anyone riding with you. If possible, take a course online. Snowmobiles are fun, but safety comes first!
If you are into snowmobiling you might also be interested in learning how to winterize your car.