Outdoors blog

MONDAY, JAN. 27, 2014, 11 A.M.

10 tips for safer snowmobiling

Josh Rindal of Spokane snowmobiles along the beach out of Nome, Alaska, at sunset after his 1,100 snowmobile trip along the Iditarod Trail.   (Bob Jones)
Josh Rindal of Spokane snowmobiles along the beach out of Nome, Alaska, at sunset after his 1,100 snowmobile trip along the Iditarod Trail. (Bob Jones)

WINTER SPORTS -- An insurance company compiled this list of safety tips for snowmobilers based on data of what most often goes wrong. Heed these guidelines and you'll stay out of the wrong column of the insurance company's statistics.

  1. Be aware of the conditions and slow down at night. Check out the weather forecast prior to riding. Slow down at night, especially around frozen water and in the mountains.
  2. Be smart. Use the proper signals to identify your intentions to other drivers around you. Keep your speed in line with the conditions and with your level of experience.
  3. Be prepared. Always bring a first-aid kit and survival items such as a flashlight, knife, compass, flares, and a fire starting kit.
  4. Don't drink and drive. There is a misconception that alcohol will keep you warm. In reality, it increases your risk of hypothermia and also slows your reaction time and decreases your ability to make good decisions.
  5. Don't ride solo. Snowmobiling is more fun when you can enjoy the adventure with friends and family. If you decide to ride alone, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  6. Dress properly. Wear protective gear such as a safety-certified helmet, warm gloves, a windproof outer layer and boots.
  7. Know the laws and regulations. State laws and regulations may vary; therefore, you should check with the local Department of Natural Resources or law enforcement agencies to familiarize yourself with the rules in your area.
  8.  Know you're protected. Be sure you have proper insurance coverage to protect your vehicle and provide liability coverage in case someone gets injured or property is damaged during the use of your machine.
  9. Maintain your snowmobile. When you pull your sled out of storage, perform a thorough check to make sure that everything is working properly. Before each ride, it is important to follow a checklist in your owner's manual.
  10. Tread lightly and respect nature. Ride only in areas where it's permitted. Wait for enough snow to cover vegetation, avoid running over trees and shrubs and don't disturb wildlife around you.



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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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