Snowmobiling is a lot of fun, but to do it safely takes an investment of money and time. You need the sled, the clothes, the helmet, the repair kit, the food, the safety kit and the time to put it all together before you even get out on the trails!
Most snowmobilers do a great job of assembling a safe ride. They understand that snowmobiling requires alertness, caution and attention. It’s a cold world out there and snowmobilers are in the middle of it. Most are well prepared and alert for potential danger. They may have taken a safety course, a first aid course or a seminar on ice rescue. They’re watching for unexpected corners, branches on the trail or snow-covered silage bags. They stay on familiar trails, know and use correct hand signals and carry a safety kit that includes a tow rope, first aid kit, survival food, spark plugs and an extra drive belt. Their communication system has a range that would allow an emergency call for help.
Most snowmobilers are passionate about their sport. They obey speed limits, don’t drink and drive, stay away from trap lines and never ride alone at night. Most wear helmets, many of them brightly branded with flame-throwing dragons, skulls, angels, eagle wings or zombies!
Helmet use is mandatory in most provinces and those helmets must have a Snell or DOT approval. The helmets are fully loaded with chin guards, tinted eye shields, cheek pads and, in some cases, ear cavity space for speakers.
Some snowmobilers fit two-way radio communication into that ear cavity space. It’s tight but many feel it’s worthwhile to keep tabs on fellow sledders, because you can’t just yell or call out to your companions, even if they’re travelling really close by.
Snowmobiles are loud. The noise level on most snowmobiles ranges between 80 and 110 decibels. You need hearing protection when you spend more than 15 minutes exposed to noise in that range. Sometimes, the noise is worse around the sled than it is for the driver, but both driver and companion need more than their helmets to preserve their hearing.
You’ve been there. You’re riding along when suddenly the countryside explodes with the bark of sleds whose owners have added after-market performance enhancers — so-called pipes or cans. The noise can be deafening, quite literally.
Do your ears a favour, and pop in ear-plugs. Keep disposable hearing protection in a pocket of your suit and place them in your ears before you pull on your helmet. You’ll cut the noise of your engine, other engines, machine vibration and the wind. Sure, plugs can make it a bit trickier talking to your pals when you stop but you probably take off your helmet at that point anyway. Just pull out the plugs and put in a new pair for the ride back.
Try it out. Order a multi-pack of free ear-plugs today. The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association has a limited supply to give out to farmers free, right now on a first-come basis. To get your free earplugs while quantities last, email [email protected]