Saskatchewan Snowmobile Safety Week is almost over. Do you ride? Have you ever thought about it? Do you know a “Sled Head” or two?
Tow sled brings in a stalled snowmobile at an antique snowmobile race. Photo by Nancy Young.
I’m not an expert – but I have been sledding my whole life in all kinds of conditions and country. So here’s my two cents:
Nancy’s Prairie Snowmobiling Tips
1. Don’t just use the short racing-style windshield that came with the sled, spend the money and get the biggest one that fits your machine. There isn’t much shelter from the wind on the prairies to begin with – not to mention you’ll be making plenty of wind yourself ripping around at speed.
2. If you can at all afford it, get a helmet with a heated visor. This will prevent you from having to choose between not seeing where you’re going or opening up your helmet to the cold. It’s a safety concern.
3. Remember to dress in layers and breathable winter wear. It’s easy to overheat going over a rough patch and then cool down a lot when you hit smooth trail.
4. Don’t wear a scarf! They can come loose and get caught under the track. Use a neckwarmer.
5. Keep your cell phone under your coat in a secure pocket. The cold kills the battery so keep it warm!\
6. Take an emergency kit that includes a heat source, flares, first aid kit, water and a small snack. You should also take some common emergency repair supplies like lighter fluid, engine oil, vise-grips, and a tow rope. Feel free to add more.
7. If you’re going to be in wetlands or lake country, avoid areas with open water unless you are absolutely sure of the ice thickness. In general, don’t ride over ground if you don’t know what’s underneath you. But if you find yourself going over soft ground maintain a minimum and even speed so that your sled stays up on plane. Snowmobiles can traverse open water if they’re going fast enough, so if you’re sinking, don’t stop! Human reflexes aren’t up to the top speeds of today’s machines, so be aware of how much time and space you’ll need to corner and plan accordingly.
8. I feel like I shouldn’t have to mention this, but don’t drink and drive! Just because you’re in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean you can’t kill yourself or others.
Lastly, I want to shout out to the No-Fog Breath Deflector Mask! This thing will change your life if you want to be outdoors in even the coldest conditions!
Antique snowmobiles kick up powder at a race. Photo by Nancy Young.
Sign up for Snowmobiling Safety! Or join the Saskatchewan Snowmobiling Association!