Snowmobiling has become a very popular winter sport for Canadians. There are currently over 700,000 registered snowmobiles in Canada and over 125,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails.
Every year people are injured and killed while participating in a pastime that should be remembered with only fond memories. Injuries and deaths that are related to snowmobiling can be prevented. Frequently reported contributing factors in collisions include excessive speed, drowning, unsafe operation, inattention, and operating under the influence of alcohol.
One of the safest snowmobiling rules is never to cross lakes or rivers. Besides the danger of plunging through the ice, you have far less traction for starting, turning and stopping on ice than on snow. Collisions on lakes account for a significant number of accidents. Don’t hold the attitude that lakes are flat, wide-open areas, free of obstructions. Remember, if you can ride and turn in any direction, without boundaries, so can other riders. The threat of a collision, then, can come from any direction.
However, if you do snowmobile on the ice, make absolutely sure the ice is safely frozen. Don’t trust the judgment of other snowmobilers. You are responsible for your own safe snowmobiling. Drowning is a leading cause of snowmobile fatalities. Consider buying a buoyant snowmobile suit. If you go through the ice, remember that your snowmobile suit (even a non-buoyant one) and helmet may keep you afloat for several minutes. Slide back onto the ice, using anything sharp to dig in for better pull. Kick your feet to propel you onto the ice, like a seal. If the ice keeps breaking, continue moving toward shore or the direction from which you came. Don’t remove your gloves or mitts. Once on the ice, roll away from the hole. Don’t stand until well away from the hole.