When we think of snowmobile safety, most of us think of preventive measures like the ones we talked about in Part 1 and Part 2 of our Basic Snowmobile Safety series. And we can’t emphasize those enough! (If you think you’re prepared, try taking this online snowmobile safety quiz.)
No matter how cautious you are, however, both winter weather and other snowmobilers can be unpredictable. You need to have protection in place to make sure you’ll stay safe in the case of a snowmobile crash. In a single year in North America, snowmobile accidents cause approximately 14,000 injuries and 200 deaths. When we talk about protective gear, we’re talking about protection from injuries caused by accidents as well as from injuries caused by frostbite, which is a very real danger when you’re out on winter trails.
Full Body Basics
Safety trumps fashion on the trails! Even fashionistas don’t like freezing — or getting injured! Safety starts with staying warm, and that begins with under layers (remember, you can always remove a layer if you get too warm). Long underwear bottoms and tops should be made of polyester or a synthetic blend, rather than cotton, which does not dry quickly or wick moisture away from the body. Additional clothing should also be made from materials that aren’t made from cotton, such as jeans and sweatshirts; instead, choose pants and tops made from polyester, fleece, or wool.
Over your clothing, windproof & waterproof snowmobile suits are your best bet. Usually, the outer shell snowmobilers wear is made from acrylic or Gore-Tex and consists of insulated pants or bibs under a warm, comfortable jacket. If you’re planning to ride on ice, you may want to consider a special suit that comes with a built-in flotation device.
Hands and Feet
Don’t forget to protect your extremities, too. Warm, water-repelling gloves with removable fleece or wool liners or mittens (which are even warmer) are important for protecting your hands, but be sure that whatever style you choose allows you to freely operate your snowmobile’s controls.
Socks made from nylon, fleece, wool, or a synthetic blend — rather than cotton — are important for adding a warm layer of insulation to your feet. It’s always a good idea to pack an extra pair of gloves and socks, as well. Good winter boots include a rubber, waterproof bottom, a lug sole with good traction, and a synthetic upper that’s high enough to repel snow. They’ll also include a breathable, removable liner.
As you might expect, a helmet is the most important protection piece, and it should be worn whenever you are riding a snowmobile. Make sure your helmet fits snugly and that the chin strap is tightly fastened. If you are involved in a crash or have been using your helmet for a number of years, be sure to replace your helmet to make sure you’re using one that can effectively absorb impacts. Full face helmets provide the greatest amount of protection, including a full visor. Motorcycle-style helmets, modular helmets, and open-face helmets are other options.
Continue with Part 2 to read about more safety gear suggestions.
The Nicholas Insurance Agency, led by Greg Nicholas, is a family owned business serving the York county, Pennsylvania region. In the insurance business since 1981, Greg Nicholas helps families, businesses and individuals understand the value of different insurance products and make wise decisions when selecting the best insurance products for their specific situations.
Offering exclusively Allstate insurance products, the Nicholas Agency provides auto, homeowners, rental and landlord insurance as well as life & disability, recreational vehicle, motorcycle and personal liability insurance.
For more information, visit our two York, PA locations at Westgate Plaza or York Marketplace or call us at (717) 764-2024.
Image credits: Top © Scarletina/MorgueFile; 2nd © ZeroSilence3/MorgueFile; 3rd © gracey/MorgueFile.