Snowmobiling is a lot of fun, but it takes a lot of 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 sled. They understand that snowmobiling requires alertness, caution and attention. It’s a cold world out there and snowmobilers are right out in the middle of it.
And 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.
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 all but three provinces — British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland/Labrador — and those helmets must carry 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 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 listening 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.
Thanks to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association for providing this farm safety tip. For more on the association, visit the website at www.casa-acsa.ca.