Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity. It’s fun, fast-paced, and it gives people an opportunity to get some fresh air during winter months when they’re usually cooped up indoors. However, if certain safety precautions are not taken, snowmobiling can be a dangerous sport. In 2006, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 127,643 injuries (mostly concussions and fractures) were caused by snowmobiling accidents.

Safety Precautions You Should Take:

Before taking your first ride, taking a safety course in snowmobile operation is a wise choice. These courses provide supervised field training that allow you to become accustomed to riding your vehicle in a safe, controlled environment.

Wherever you plan on riding, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terrain and potential hazards such as sharp turns, bumps, or unexpected barriers. Additionally, check all of your equipment before going for a ride. Malfunctioning lights or breaks can lead to accidents and running out of fuel can leave you cold and stranded, potentially in a remote location. Because of this risk, you should never go out alone when snowmobiling.

Wearing the appropriate protective equipment is also a must. Wearing an approved helmet is absolutely essential to protect against concussions, and goggles or another form of eye protection is a necessity as well. Another important factor that more commonly goes overlooked is the importance of wearing warm and snug-fitting clothing. Any loose clothing can get caught on passing branches or moving parts in the snowmobile and should always be avoided.

Finally, the same rules that apply to safe driving when you’re in your car apply when you’re riding on a snowmobile. Always travel at safe speeds, and follow any trail signs or trail rules.

Reference: In Motion (A Publication of the AOSSM); Lance LeClare, MD; “Stay Safe Riding in Winter Terrain”; Winter 2012; http://aossm.informz.net/admin31/content/template.asp?sid=27006&ptid=1511&brandid=4196

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