SAFE SNOWMOBILING - Part 1
A disproportionate number of snowmobiling incidents, including nine out of ten fatalities, occur after dark. Most often night riding also includes alcohol consumption and excessive speed.
Forward visibility is reduced by darkness and it is much more difficult to spot and identify potential hazards in time. Overdriving headlights can also be a serious problem so slow down when snowmobiling after dark. Becoming disoriented or lost is much more likely at night.
Always wear outer clothing with reflective trim on the arms, back and helmet. Never ride alone at night. Always dress in your full snowmobiling outfit even if your intended destination is just next door.
Ice and Snowmobiles
Drowning is one of the leading causes of snowmobile fatalities. Wherever possible, avoid riding on frozen lakes and rivers because ice conditions are never a safe bet. Ice conditions can change in a period of several hours. If you must cross ice, ask first, then stay on the packed or marked trail. Don't stop until you reach shore. If you hit slush, don't let off the throttle. If you are following someone who hits slush, veer off to make your own path. If you must travel over lakes and rivers then consider using a buoyant snowmobile suit that will assist you to reach the closest ice surface. Also consider carrying a set of picks that will help you grip the edge of the ice more easily. As a rule of thumb, "If you don't know, don't go."
If you do break through the ice, don't panic. Follow these self rescue tips:
For more information on ice safety and rescue, contact the Lifesaving Society at (613) 746-5694 and ask for a copy of their ice manual.
- Kick vigorously into a horizontal position and swim
to the nearest ice edge.
- Place hands/arms on unbroken ice while kicking hard
to propel your body onto the ice like a seal.
- Once clear, stay flat and roll away to stronger ice.
- Stand, keep moving and find shelter fast.
Cold Facts of Winter
This is the lowering of the body's core temperature. It can happen in water or on land. Hypothermia does not require extreme cold and accelerates with wind and wetness. Dressing warmly in water resistant layers helps, but if immersed, quickly replace wet clothes, keep moving to generate body heat and find immediate shelter and warmth.
This occurs when direct and reflecting sun glare are too bright for the eyes. Riding without good quality, UV protected sunglasses can cause permanent damage.
Frostbite results from freezing temperatures and poor circulation. Most common on extremities and exposed skin, it can be identified by unnaturally white and numb skin surrounded by harsh red colouring. Cover up and layer well, making sure that socks fit loosely within your boots and remember that mitts with liners are warmer than gloves.
Wind chill is lower temperature caused by wind and/or the forward momentum of a fast moving sled. Wind chill exposes you to severe cold which in turn can cause hypothermia. Wind-proof outer garments, extra layers and a balaclava will offer some protection, but keep your face shield down to prevent wind burn and to protect your skin and eyes.
>>> Safe Snowmobiling - Part 2