Operating a snowmobile requires strength, skill and maturity. Here are some tips for a smooth ride to avoid injuries and make it to your destination safe and sound.

When winter is just around the corner…

Inspect your snowmobile and ensure that everything is still in good working order. Make any necessary repairs, if required. You’re not a master mechanic? Take your machine to a professional.

Fill a first aid kit with everything you might need in the event of an accident.

Prepare an emergency kit for your snowmobile that includes:

  • spark plugs
  • drive belt
  • fan belt
  • spare key
  • emergency flares.

Review all the hand signals approved by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. You may have forgotten them over time so go over the list before heading out…

Ask the relevant authorities about rules governing the use of a snowmobile in your province or territory.

Before hitting the trails!

Check the weather forecast in the area where you plan to ride. Do not rely on weather conditions observed at your starting point if you are setting out on a long journey. Remember that Mother Nature is fickle and ever-changing!

Contact a local snowmobile club or business to get information about actual trail conditions in the region you want to explore. Conditions can quickly change due to temperature, snowfall and the number of riders on the trail.

Are you transporting your snowmobile on a trailer? Be careful when loading and unloading your vehicle.

Have the right equipment:

  • Choose well-insulated protective clothing.
  • Pick a waterproof suit and gloves.
  • Wear boots with rubber soles.
  • Don’t forget your helmet and goggles!

Play… with caution

Attach a coloured flag to a metal rod (1.2 to 2.4 m) mounted on the back of your snowmobile to remain clearly visible, especially in hilly areas.

For heightened safety, travel in a group… at least 2 snowmobiles.

If you’re riding with a passenger:

  • Be extra cautious. Passengers are more likely to suffer a head injury than the driver.
  • Passengers should be at least 6 years old or older. Ensure they are properly seated and understand they must stay alert to avoid tipping or falling off the snowmobile.

Use a sled attached to the snowmobile by a rigid bar if you want to tow someone behind. A spotter should be assigned to keep an eye on the person being towed. Never pull a saucer, tube, tire or skis.

Follow the signs and speed limits posted on the trails. Proceed with extra caution when riding on unmarked trails.

Slow down and pay close attention in unfamiliar or rough terrain, when crossing a road or when riding near train tracks or on pedestrian trails. The same advice applies when riding in the evening or at night.

Stay off lakes or rivers unless you are absolutely sure the ice is thick enough to support the weight of your vehicle.

Never operate a snowmobile after consuming alcohol or drugs, or after taking medication that causes drowsiness.

Learn how to identify the signs of hypothermia and prevent it. Also know how to recognize and treat frostbite. Always drive with a clear head and stop for a while if you are tired.

Have a great ride!