Sharing snowmobile safety

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Those who like to go snowmobiling are probably chomping at the bit, waiting for enough snow to fall so they can take their sleds out. Whether you’re new to the pastime or heading out on the trails as a well-traveled winter wanderer, it’s important to review some safety guidelines so that everyone can have a great time this season.

First, consider taking a snowmobile safety course. A lot of states require a snowmobile operator certificate and this course would be a necessity. It teaches you how to ride safely and responsibly. Although a lot of things might seem like common sense, common sense isn’t always as common as we might like.

Second, make sure your sled is in good running condition. It’s been about a year since you last used it. If you don’t feel confident checking everything out yourself, find a place with a snowmobile technician who can help you. There’s nothing worse than breaking down in the cold in the middle of nowhere!

Before heading out on the trails, make sure you bundle up appropriately. You’ll be out in the elements for a long time, so staying warm and dry is critical. A good winter tip in general is to dress in layers, and it’s true here too. Full body snowmobile suits are also available. Good gloves and socks are important for your extremities, and a scarf for your neck might be helpful too. Additionally, since you’ll be going at high speeds (and sometimes in bright sun), invest in a good helmet with a face shield. Your head and your eyes will thank you.

Check the weather forecast and the trail conditions before you head out too. If you’re not sure where the trails are, a quick internet search can help. Be a courteous neighbor and don’t cross other people’s property unless you have permission to do so. If the weather outside is frightful (very windy, icy or rainy), maybe hold off on a ride that day.

Remember, it’s always more fun to ride with some friends, and it’s safer too – in case someone does break down or an accident occurs. Make sure there is someone in your group (it could be you) who carries a first aid kit and a repair kit, just in case.

Lastly, when you’re out there enjoying a winter wonderland, stay alert. It’s not as big as a car or truck, but a snowmobile is still a vehicle. Don’t drink and drive. Obey traffic rules when crossing roads. Be careful. But more importantly, have fun.

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