Alberta Health Services
By Garett Richardson, Health Promotion Facilitator
The snow is starting to pile up and snowmobile enthusiasts are getting ready for a fun winter. A lot of fun can be had while snowmobiling, but there are many factors to keep in mind to ensure everyone stays safe. Take care with some easy steps to snowmobile safely this winter.
Be familiar with the machine you’re using and know how to make common repairs. Also, make sure the snowmobile is an appropriate size for your skill and abilities. Operate the snowmobile in a safe manner at reasonable speeds. You can also take a snowmobile safety course. This can teach you the skills to operate a snowmobile safely and with confidence.
Remember that Alberta Health Services does not recommend children under the age of 16 to operate all-terrain vehicles, which includes snowmobiles. Children under this age don’t have the required strength and skills to safely operate all-terrain vehicles.
Remember to always wear an appropriate snowmobile-specific helmet. Although Alberta doesn’t have a mandatory snowmobile helmet law, a helmet should be considered required equipment.
Everyone wants to have a good time. However, not riding in a safe manner without reasonable care can get you into trouble with the law under the Traffic Safety Act. Remember to have proper registration and insurance for the places you are riding.
As always, alcohol and motorsports never mix. Most deadly ATV collisions occur when alcohol has been consumed. The same laws that govern our roadways apply to snowmobiles. Avoid alcohol before and during the ride.
If you ride in mountainous terrain, take an Avalanche Skills Training course from Avalanche Canada. Also ensure you and the members in your group have the avalanche gear required to perform a rescue: an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and a probe. Practice performing avalanche rescues to become familiar with your equipment. Snowmobile deaths have accounted for over 40% of the total deaths due to avalanches since 1999.
See saferoads.com for more information on snowmobile safety. Avalanche Canada’s website, avalanche.ca, also has great information for those who snowmobile in the mountains.
For more information on other health related topics, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca or ahs.ca. Health advice is also available 24/7 by calling Health Link at 811.