Snowmobile safety is your #1 concern. No matter what your skill level is, or how much snowmobiling you have done, the only good day of snowmobiling is a safe one. According to research, there are over 200 snowmobiling fatalities and over 14,000 injuries per year. Do not become a statistic. All you have to do is A.S.K. before you begin each ride.

A =  

Avoid going alone. Snowmobiling is a dynamic and challenging sport. Protect yourself by participating with friends or by joining one of Utah’s local clubs. Your chances of having a good snowmobiling day are greatly enhanced when you have others to help you do so safely.

S

Skill is not a substitute for smarts. While you could be very skilled with a sled, skill should never replace being smart. Take time to let others know when you will be leaving and returning from a ride. Bring communication devices like whistles and two way radios. Pack adequate food and water. See our snowmobiler’s packing list here to get more ideas on what gear to take to make your ride safe and smart.

K

Know the conditions. Avalanche conditions are prevalent in Utah’s backcountry. Before any ride, take a moment to review these conditions here. Then make sure your group understands them too. It is also wise to check the weather forecast before each ride to anticipate storms and others suboptimal conditions.

By A.S.K.ing a few key questions before each and every ride, you can protect yourself and your group from unnecessary risk. Have fun and be safe!

Additional Safety Tips 

  • Watch your fuel supply. Head out only to a point where the fuel gauge reads just above one-half; then follow your tracks back to the trailhead.
  • An adult should accompany and supervise operator's ages eight through 15 at all times.
  • Dress for changing weather conditions. Layered clothing allows riders to adjust as temperature and weather condition change.
  • Be familiar with your machine. Know its fuel capacity and basic maintenance procedures. Carry extra spark plugs, drive belts, tools, and survival supplies.
  • DO NOT harass wildlife.
  • DO NOT trespass. Trespassing on private property erodes the trust land owners have with snowmobilers. This causes access closure, which hurts all snowmobilers.
  • DO NOT litter. Littering hurts snowmobilers relations with local authorities, which in the end hurts snowmobilers access privileges.

Frostbite

Frostbite is caused by exposing unprotected flesh to freezing temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

Symptoms

  • At first, cold skin and a prickling feeling
  • Numbness
  • Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
  • Hard or waxy-looking skin
  • Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
  • Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases

First Aid

  • Check for hypothermia. Get emergency medical help if you suspect hypothermia.
  • Protect your skin from further exposure. If you're outside, warm frostbitten hands by tucking them into your armpits. Protect your face, nose and ears by covering them with dry, gloved hands. Don't rub the affected area and never rub snow on frostbitten skin.
  • Get out of the cold. Once you're indoors, remove wet clothes.
  • Gently rewarm frostbitten areas. Soak hands or feet in warm water — 99 to 108 F (37 to 42 C) — for 15 to 30 minutes. If a thermometer isn't available, test the water by placing an uninjured hand or elbow in it — it should feel very warm, not hot. Don't rewarm frostbitten skin with direct heat, such as a stove, heat lamp, fireplace or heating pad. These can cause burns.
  • If there's any chance the affected areas will freeze again, don't thaw them. If they're already thawed, wrap them up so that they don't refreeze.
  • Take pain medicine. If you are in pain, take over-the-counter ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes if possible. This further damages the tissue.
  • Know what to expect as skin thaws. If the skin turns red and you feel tingling and burning as it warms, normal blood flow is returning. But seek emergency medical attention if the numbness or pain remains during warming or if blisters develop.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia poses the greatest danger to snowmobilers. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, thus draining energy from the body.

Prevention Tips

  • Wear layered clothing to regulate your body heat properly
  • Avoid extreme conditions, especially storms that cause temperature fluctuations
  • Wear waterproof clothing, designed for snowmobilers
  • Keep exhaustion at a minimum by continuously hydrating and eating nutritious food

Symptoms

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

First Aid For Hypothermia

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Be gentle. When you're helping a person with hypothermia, handle him or her gently. Limit movements to only those that are necessary. Don't massage or rub the person. Excessive, vigorous or jarring movements may trigger cardiac arrest.
  • Move the person out of the cold. Move the person to a warm, dry location if possible. If you're unable to move the person out of the cold, shield him or her from the cold and wind as much as possible. Keep him or her in a horizontal position if possible.
  • Remove wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it. Cut away clothing if necessary to avoid excessive movement.
  • Cover the person with blankets. Use layers of dry blankets or coats to warm the person. Cover the person's head, leaving only the face exposed.
  • Insulate the person's body from the cold ground. If you're outside, lay the person on his or her back on a blanket or other warm surface.
  • Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person's breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin CPR immediately if you're trained.
  • Provide warm beverages. If the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body.
  • Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a plastic fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed) or a makeshift compress of warm water in a plastic bottle or a dryer-warmed towel. Apply a compress only to the neck, chest wall or groin. Don't apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
  • Don't apply direct heat. Don't use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the person. The extreme heat can damage the skin or, even worse, cause irregular heartbeats so severe that they can cause the heart to stop.

 

Avalanche Danger

As a snowmobiler, you must realize that avalanche danger is always present. However, with proper training and communication, you can greatly reduce avalanche risk for both you and your group. The first place to start is to follow the advice of the Utah Avalanche Center to KBYG or Know Before You Go. Here are the steps:

  1. Get the gear
  2. Get the training
  3. Get the forecast
  4. Get the picture
  5. Get out of harms way

Learn more and view videos about the details associated with the KBYG initiative. It could save your life or the life of someone you know. Don’t Become A Victim!