Snowmobile season is right around the corner for Minnesotans. During the 2011-2012 season, there were over 250,000 registered snowmobiles in Minnesota. Like any activity that involves a motorized vehicle, snowmobiling carries potential risk for riders. Not only can minor accidents dampen your winter fun, but broken equipment could leave you and your family stranded in remote areas with freezing temperatures.
Before you hit the snowy trails, be prepared this winter by making your own snowmobile safety kit. The safety items and emergency equipment listed below can be purchased at your local drugstore and hardware/home improvement store. Store items in a waterproof container that fits easily inside the trunk of your snowmobile.
First Aid Kit
Sometimes bumps and bruises happen as a result of falling off snowmobiles. Whether you ride close to home or venture into remote areas, you shouldn’t leave the house without a well-stocked first aid kit, including the following items:
Stainless steel scissors (with blunt blades)
Gauze and tape
Antiseptic wipes and ointment
Splinter forceps or tweezers
Wound closure strips
Small bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen
Survival and Emergency Equipment
If you become lost or stranded, it’s crucial to have survival and emergency items and tools on hand. You might need to seek immediate shelter for warmth and safety. Don’t forget to add these items to your snowmobile kit:
Waterproof map – laminate your map or use a plastic sleeve
Compass with mirror
Long-lasting emergency candles
Emergency whistle (non-metallic)
Duct or electrical tape
LED flashlight or small lamp – with extra batteries
Chemical hand and foot warmers
Large, sturdy tarp – for temporary shelter
Emergency food supply (i.e. freeze-dried or dehydrated meals, energy bars, trail mix, etc.)
Sudden changes in weather and avalanches can pose a safety risk while riding on trails. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service recommends that snowmobile riders are equipped with a transceiver, avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, and GPS unit. It’s important that you or a fellow rider understands how to properly operate the equipment.
Include Spare Snowmobile Parts
The last thing you need is to break down while snowmobiling. Understand how your snowmobile operates and brush up on basic snowmobile mechanics. Include the following spare parts in your kit for quick repairs, and don’t forget to include your user’s manual:
Spare drive belt and straps
Small, light-weight tool kit
Extra ignition key – just in case you lose your key on the trail
Long Distance Snowmobile Rides
The American Council of Snowmobile Associations reports that there are 137,000 miles of trails located in the U.S. If you plan to hit these snowboard trails this winter, thoroughly inspect your snowmobile’s condition and make sure it’s in top working condition. If you plan an overnight trip, tell a family member or friend about your route and destination – in case you become stranded or lost.
Remember to wear a safety helmet and warm and waterproof clothing and snow boots, and pack extra items including food, water, and clothes for long distance and/or overnight trips.
Don’t forget to add these items to your snowmobile safety kit:
Driver’s license and insurance card
Mobile phone (with a fully charged battery)