Editor’s Note: The message comes out of Manitoba but it applies to anyone planning to snowmobile this winter — use the common sense side of the brain.
With a number of snowmobile trails in Manitoba expected to open this month, STARS, Snowmobilers of Manitoba Inc. (Snoman) and Lifesaving Society Manitoba have come together to encourage the safe operation of snowmobiles this winter.
Snoman President Alan Butler says an area of emphasis for the organization is reminding snowmobilers in the province to be mindful of their speed.
“Last season we introduced a poster in shelters dealing with excessive speed,” Butler said. “We want riders to have fun but ensure that they arrive home to their families.” (Photo courtesy Snoman)
Butler added that Manitoba has the third most extensive snowmobile trail system in Canada, and it is essential that all riders practice safety at all times. He encouraged riders to keep these additional points in mind when operating their snowmobiles.
- Do not operate a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Do not trespass on private property — always get the owner’s permission
- Wear a helmet
- Ride according to the terrain and your ability
- Bring a tool kit and first aid kit
- Stay on designated trails
Grant Therrien, STARS Provincial Director of Operations, Manitoba, noted that from 2017 to 2019, STARS responded to 12 calls related to snowmobiles. He added that in many of those cases excessive speed was a common theme.
“We have seen incidents where a snowmobiler was going too fast for either the conditions or the trail, and lost control,” Therrien said. “Many of them also occurred in remote locations making it very difficult, or impossible, for the injured riders to be reached by ground EMS.”
Therrien added the most concerning element to STARS is the serious nature of the injuries resulting from these incidents. “The snowmobile calls we respond to often have devastating results, ranging from fatalities to life-altering injuries. For those who are fortunate to survive, they often have to endure grueling rehabilitation that can take months and even years. So if you are heading out on your snowmobile this winter, please do so safely.”
An additional safety concern for snowmobilers this winter is unpredictable ice conditions throughout the province. Recently two snowmobilers fell through the ice in the Victoria Beach area, prompting Lifesaving Society Manitoba to issue a public warning to snowmobilers. “Due to the unprecedented conditions that have occurred this year for ice formation, we advise everyone that if you are planning to go out on the ice, you need to be prepared to go through it and into cold water,” said Dr. Christopher Love, Water Smart Coordinator, Lifesaving Society Manitoba. “Wearing a Floatation Snowmobile Suit (floater coat) or a lifejacket when out on the ice is the minimum preparation every person should take.”
Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]