Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 28, 2014

Playing it safe when out snowmobiling

Plentiful snow this winter in Delta County and the rest of the Upper Peninsula have have put smiles on the faces of snowmobilers. Many mild winters in recent years — and the lack of snow — made snowmobiling difficult at best.

Plentiful snow means more opportunities for snowmobiling, more snowmobilers, and more activity on the trails. It also increases the risk of a snowmobile accident. Here’s a few suggestions that will make your snowmobile outing a safe one.

n 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.

n 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.

n Be prepared. Always bring a first-aid kit and survival items such as a flashlight, knife, compass, flares, and a fire-starting kit.

n 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.

n 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.

n Dress properly. Wear protective gear such as a safety-certified helmet, warm gloves, a windproof outer layer and boots.

n 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.

n 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.

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