Snowmobile enthusiasts are certainly enjoying the snowfalls that Saskatchewan has experienced in the past few weeks. However, before you gear up for your next ride, the Saskatchewan Safety Council wants to remind you of a few simple preparation tips that can help you stay safe this winter.
“Snowmobiling is a great way to get outdoors with your family and friends this year, while keeping away those ‘winter blues,’” says Peter Huebner, Snowmobile Safety Program Coordinator for the Saskatchewan Safety Council. “However, it can also be a dangerous and deadly activity if you are not prepared and do not take appropriate safety precautions.”
With more than 40 years of riding experience, Huebner is well aware about the importance of preparing for both a safe and fun snowmobile adventure.
“One of the greatest safety assets a rider can possess is awareness,” says Huebner. “Know your abilities as a rider and the capabilities of your machine. Ride in familiar areas. When travelling in new terrain, learn about the area beforehand by referring to maps, talking with local residents, and through resources provided by local snowmobile clubs,” he says.
At the beginning and end of the snowmobiling season, there is often little snow cover, which can be hazardous for riders. “When there is thin snow cover, objects under the snow may not be visible. These objects, such as rocks and fallen tree branches, can cause serious damage to the machine and potentially harm riders,” says Huebner. The best solution is to either ride in a familiar area or on snowmobile trails. Riders should also always wear a helmet and, when travelling on unfamiliar terrain, reduce their speed.
Huebner further advises riders to store safety equipment in their snowmobile. “Take along a first aid kit, a cell phone, a basic set of tools, a starting strap, an extra drive belt, a set of spark plugs, and a de-icer,” he says.
Riders should also ensure that they are protected by wearing layers of warm clothing. “Bring an extra pair of socks and gloves and store them in a waterproof container to ensure that they stay dry,” suggests Huebner.
To be truly prepared for the snowmobiling experience, riders should participate in the Snowmobile Safety Course that is offered by the Saskatchewan Safety Council. The course is open to everyone, including families and experienced riders. In Saskatchewan, riders born either in or after 1989 are required to complete a safety course in order to obtain a permit to drive. Course fees are $70 per person and $145 per family.
For more information on the snowmobile safety courses, contact the Saskatchewan Safety Council at (306) 757-3197.