Are you ready for snowmobiling? If you are, remember these safety tips.
Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drive at a speed that will give you enough time to react should you need to change speed or direction quickly. Drive at moderate speeds, and drive defensively, especially after sunset.
Be sure whoever you're with has a first-aid kit with a flashlight, knife, compass, map, and waterproof matches. Don't forget the cell phone either!
Avoid traveling across lakes, streams and rivers if you aren't sure of the ice thickness or water currents. Rapidly changing weather and moving water in streams and lake inlets also affect the thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Ice also tends to heave causing large obstructions. Hitting an ice heave at a high rate of speed can have disastrous effects.
Dress for the weather
Always wear a helmet with goggles or a face shield to prevent injuries from twigs and flying debris. Wear layers of water-repellent clothing and make sure you have no loose ends that might catch in the machine or tangle in equipment.
Stay on marked trails or, where allowed, on the right shoulder of the road. Be alert for fences, tree stumps and stretched wire that may be concealed by snow.
Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in personal injury. The most dangerous situations occur when a person is injured and alone. If you must travel alone, tell someone your destination, planned route, and when you will return.
Never travel without wearing an approved flotation device and having a good set of ice awls.
These blunt, pick like tools should always be carried in your coat. If your snowmobile breaks through the ice and you find yourself in the water, these are most likely your only chance of survival. When in the water, it is nearly impossible to get enough grip on the ice to pull yourself out of the water. You only have a few minutes to act before your body temperature is reduced so low that you violently shake and finally lose all motor function. Ice awls are driven into the ice and along with kicking, a victim can pull his way out.
Below is a picture of a set of ice awls in action
These ice awls are effective and recommended. Ice awls can be found at your local snowmobile retailer or on the internet.
Year after year Lake County continues to see fatalities from snowmobilers breaking through the ice. Please be prepared and follow these safety rules.