In the winter months, many outdoors-men seek the thrill of an ATV, and use snowmobiles as a fun way to achieve that feeling.
However, as with any off-roading vehicle, snowmobiles present their own serious safety concerns, some of which are unique to the snow covered trails the machines are used on.
The first tip is to make sure you or another rider is operating a vehicle that is the appropriate size for the operator. This tip will be familiar to anyone who regularly uses ATVs and motorcycles. IT can be dangerous and deadly to have someone operate a machine that is too big, or uses more horsepower than they are accustomed to handling.
The second tip is to know where you are operating, and make sure one has permission to be on private land. The right weather conditions can make it difficult to see, and the snow may be covering up what would otherwise be an obvious path.
Tip number three is to always dress for the weather. While this one may seem obvious, it can be very important if one happens to break down in a remote region. While you may be able to get ahold of a friend or the authorities, it may be a while for them to reach your location depending on where you are.
Tip number four is to always travel with a friend. Bringing a friend on your rides won't just be more fun for the both of you, but it will lend an extra pair of hands to get out of a sticky situation. It will also allow one of the riders to go for help, should the other get stuck or injured. As the old saying goes, "Two minds are better than one."
While it may be obvious, tip number five is to never drive a snowmobile while drunk or high. Not only is the risk of injury just as high due to the exposed driver and rough terrain, but impaired driving on a snowmobile carries the same penalties as it would in a regular car.
The sixth tip is to be aware of the conditions of ice if one is heading out onto a lake or river. Thicker ice can withstand heavier objects, and the ice must be at least 25 centimetres in order to handle the weight of a snowmobile.
Tip number seven is to be prepared for an emergency situation. If your machine breaks down, or someone in the group is injured, it is important for someone to be carrying a first-aid kit, signal flares, and a fire starting kit for nights and colder days.
Tip number eight is to just use common sense. Don't go driving in an area that looks too dangerous. Don't go out in particularly bad weather conditions.
Tip number nine may be the most vital: make sure the machine is in safe working order. Operating a damaged or malfunctioning snowmobile is a recipe for disaster, especially if you're not prepared properly prepared.
Finally, tip number ten is to be aware of the surroundings. Echoing back to previous tips, avoid riding during the night, and in unfamiliar terrain. Stick to established riding trails. It never feels good to be lost, especially in freezing temperatures.
While driving a snowmobile with friends can be a great way to spend some time outdoors with friends during the cold winter months, it can quickly become a disaster if one isn't properly prepared for a less than comfortable situation.