AMPS SNOWMOBILE SAFETY TIPS
Over the past week the surrounding areas were impacted by snowfall resulting in calls concerning snowmobile safety. The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service Snowmobile, ATV, and Vessel Enforcement unit (SAVE) would like to offer some snowmobile safety tips.
- Check the weather forecast and plan ahead.
- It is always a good idea to check the weather conditions and to plan ahead. If the trail is frozen, the wind chill is too low, or a blizzard with white out conditions is in the forecast, you will want to plan your ride for another day. Checking the weather also helps you select the proper clothing for the day.
- Wear appropriate clothes and protective gear.
- Staying warm and dry during your ride will make it more enjoyable and safer. Wear a snowmobile suit, which commonly consists of a jacket and insulated bibs. Under your snowmobile suit, dress in layers. Stay away from cotton because if it gets wet, it will freeze. Choose polyester blends to wick moisture away from your body. In addition, wear goggles or a face shield if you do not have a full-face helmet, socks (no cotton), waterproof gloves, winter hat, facemask and winter boots. Always wear a DOT-approved helmet, not only to keep you warm but to also protect your head from injury. Make sure children have a helmet that properly fits.
- Inspect your snowmobile before your ride.
- Make sure your snowmobile is running properly before heading out on the trail. Having your owner’s manual handy on your ride is a good idea for extra safety. It is important to follow the recommended service schedule to keep it maintained and running smoothly. Before each ride, check fuel and oil levels, battery, brakes, drive belt, skis, throttle, handlebars, headlights and taillights. Also, make sure you allow your snowmobile time to run for at least a minute to warm up before taking off.
- Bring a buddy.
- Riding with a friend or in a group is fun and also safer, especially on trails you have never taken before. Someone else can help you if your snowmobile breaks down or if you get into an accident. It is also recommended to tell a friend or family member your plans and route for your ride in case you do get stranded. Keep in mind that cell phones don’t always work in remote areas.
- Carry a first-aid kit, emergency kit and repair kit.
- Keep a basic first-aid kit in the snowmobile in case of injury. It should include: disinfecting wipes, bandages, hand sanitizer, gauze, adhesive tape and Band-Aids. In addition, carry an emergency kit with waterproof matches, flashlight, compass, map, blanket, water, snacks and a knife. A repair kit is also essential and should include: duct tape, tools, spare belt, tow rope, spark plugs and pry bar.
- Stay alert.
- It is important to be observant and watch for obstacles in your path, such as rocks, fallen trees, barbed wire fences, ditches, open water, other snowmobiles, snow banks, animals, hikers and skiers.
- Avoid frozen rivers.
- It is impossible to gauge the thickness of ice. Ice can easily crack and give way under your snowmobile.
- Do not speed.
- Driving at a moderate pace will allow you to react to an unexpected occurrence on your trail and avoid an accident.
- Stay on the trail.
- Although Akwesasne does not offer groomed snowmobile trails, police are asking snowmobilers to request permission before utilizing private property. Failure to do so can result in police action.
- Driver should be the age of 16 or older.
- It is also strongly recommended that children under the age of 16 do not operate a snowmobile. The reason for this is because they may lack the skills needed to safely operate the vehicle and due to their stature can be easily injured.
- Do not overload your snowmobile.
- Make sure you check your manufacturer’s guide for the approved number of passengers and also the amount of weight it can carry. Exceeding these maximums either from an additional passenger or heavy gear can increase your chances of accidents and injuries
- Never operate a snowmobile while impaired.
- Just like driving a car, operating a snowmobile while impaired can lead to delayed responses and cause accidents.
Overall, snowmobiling can be fun and safe when the operator follows the recommended guidelines and practices safe snowmobile techniques. For more information on local rules and regulations, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service at 613-575-2340.