Like activities that involve exercise, outdoor skills, teamwork and adventure? What better way to spend outdoor time with loved ones than full-on family snowmobiling?
According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association you are not alone if this type of adventure piques your interest. With over 1.2 million registered snowmobiles in the USA alone, it’s easy to see that more thrill-seekers drawn to the exciting world of family snowmobiling.
It’s understandable that people passionate about outdoor activities quickly find that few experiences match the exhilaration of a great snowmobile ride, families new to the sport should take precaution. What should be a challenging and fun experience can turn tragic when riders of all ages don’t take proper care.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while preparing for your first or next family excursion.
Prepare from head to toe
Head injuries are a leading cause of injury and even fatalities for snowmobilers, so make sure to wear a proper helmet. If you are renting or going on a guided tour this may be included in the package. Check that the helmet is in good shape, and be sure to utilize the visor for visibility and mitigating wind.
In addition to safeguarding your brain while family snowmobiling, be sure to dress warm enough, as even a warm day will feel much colder when you pick up speed and the crisp air races by you. Dress in layers, so you can adapt according to changing weather conditions. Be sure to have a windproof layer, as well as warm gloves and boots. And, of course, wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect sensitive skin from the sun.
Also, be sure to bring plenty of food, water and a basic first aid kit if you are not traveling with a professional guide who will have those items on hand. Keep your cell phone handy for emergency situations, but no texting or making phone calls while riding!
Inspect your sled
Make sure your snowmobile is in top shape, fueled up, with working lights on front and back. Also make sure you’re familiar with how to address basic repairs (or travel with someone who is knowledgeable about snowmobile sled maintenance).
Likewise, any experienced snowmobiler will be able to share a story or two about the difficulties of digging a rig out of a snow bank. Have a pro show you how to do this without the snowmobile tipping over.
Know the area
Get familiar with the trail you plan to take when family snowmobiling. Make sure to keep a map or GPS handy. Especially in stormy conditions, which can accelerate quickly, it’s extra important to not get lost with you family.
For beginners, make sure you go out with an experienced guide, who will not only instruct adults on how to operate the machine but also will be knowledgeable about the local terrain and weather patterns.
While more and more families are discovering that snowmobiling is beautiful way to bond with children—and nature—keeping everyone safe in the long run should be priority No. 1.