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Northern Light Surgery and Trauma Injury Prevention Tips: Snowmobiling Safety

Date: 01/04/2021

We’re fortunate to live in a state where outdoor activities are in abundance throughout the entire year. January through March are popular months for snowmobiling in Maine; in 2019, it’s estimated that the snowmobiling industry contributed nearly $459 million to the state’s economy!

To help our friends and neighbors remain safe this snowmobiling season, the team at Northern Light Surgery and Trauma have developed a list of helpful tips to remember:
  • Don’t drink alcohol and ride. Alcohol is a huge contributor to fatal snowmobile crashes. Alcohol use while driving your snowmobile (or any type of motorized machinery), has a negative effect on vision, balance, coordination, and reaction time. Just don’t do it.
  • Don’t ride alone. It’s always fun to have a friend to enjoy adventures with! It’s also helpful if one machine is disabled; you have someone to help.
  • Dress for safety & survival. Always wear a quality Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet and facemask. The helmet is law, by the way! Wear layers of clothing to aid in keeping you warm and dry. Snowmobile suits, gloves, mittens, and boots should cut the wind, repel water, and keep you ventilated.
  • Slow down. Excessive speed is a factor in many accidents! If posted, follow the speed limits and consider slowing down, especially in the dark, and while turning.
  • Keep to the right. Almost every trail is a “two way” trail. Stay to the right, especially on hills and corners. Obey all trail signs, and cross roadways with caution.
  • Stay on the trail. Trespassing on private land is a major complaint from landowners. Venturing off the trail also puts you at greater risk of an accident as there are no markers.
  • Stay off of lakes and rivers. It is safest to avoid riding on lakes and rivers at all times. If you must ride on ice, wear a lifejacket over your outer clothing. Stay on the marked trail and stay off ice that has moving water near or under it, such as on a river. The ice in these areas may be thin and unsafe. Consider keeping an ice safety chart in your pocket and check ice thickness when you are heading out.

Ice Safety
The chart below is a good one to keep handy, however, remember that these thicknesses are mere guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than ice thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

Thin Ice Chart

Follow these helpful safety hints for a winter season that is bound to be fun and full of wintertime adventure. Stay warm and safe and enjoy the ride!

Sources: International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website