Snowmobilers ecstatic about snow in Muskoka, as sledding season off to best start in years
ORILLIA – Snowmobilers and their friends in Muskoka are grinning ear to ear this week.
With almost as much snow the past two weeks as some winters, the sledding season is off to its best start in years.
But with that comes responsibility.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Central Region is warning snowmobile enthusiasts to exercise caution at all times while out enjoying this winter past time. This warning comes after seven people lost their lives last year as a result of fatal motorized snow vehicle collisions that occurred within Central Region, says a news release.
Acting Chief Superintendent and Regional Commander Mark Vanzant is asking snowmobilers to “always exercise caution and to travel at speeds which take into consideration not only your ability as an operator, but also the conditions of the trails you are travelling upon. Although some trails are open, conditions will vary due to the freezing rain we experienced this weekend.” “Any loss of life is tragic, but this is something that is avoidable if snowmobilers remember to ‘ride safe and sled smart’” adds Acting Chief Superintendent Mark Vanzant.
The following safety tips are strongly recommended by the OPP:
Ø Always wear a helmet.
Ø Only travel on trails which are groomed and posted as “open”.
Ø When travelling on frozen water surfaces make sure that the ice is strong enough to support you and your snowmobile.
Ø Watch out for open water around docks and shorelines that may be caused by operating bubblers.
Ø Be cognizant that lower water levels have caused normally submerged hazards such as rocks to now be exposed.
Ø Be aware that areas where there has blowing and drifting snow that obstructions such as docks may be covered.
Ø Travel only at posted speed limits – don’t speed.
Ø Only operate snowmobiles that you are familiar with.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) website suggests the following be kept in mind while snowmobiling:
Wind Chill: Wind chill occurs when the temperature drops below the actual thermometer reading due to wind and/or the forward momentum of a fast moving sled. Wind chill exposes you to severe cold, which in turn can cause hypothermia. Wind-proof outer garments, extra layers and a balaclava will offer some protection, but keep your face shield down to prevent wind burn and to protect your skin and eyes.
Ride Safe: Please follow the nationally approved snowmobile hand signals to ensure safety on the trails for everyone.
Practice Zero Alcohol: Alcohol is involved in over 70% of snowmobiling fatalities. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your perception, slow your reaction time and limit your ability to control your sled at that critical moment when your life is in the balance. Operating your sled under the influence of alcohol is punishable under the Criminal Code of Canada. If convicted of driving a snowmobile while impaired, you will lose all driving privileges (car, truck, motorcycle, off-road vehicles and snowmobile). Therefore if you drink and ride both your driver’s license and insurability are at risk.
Night Riding: Nine out of ten fatalities, occur after dark. Slow down, don’t overdrive your headlights. Becoming disoriented or lost is much more likely at night. Wear outer clothing with reflective trim on the arms, back and helmet. Never ride alone at night. Always dress in your full snowmobiling outfit even if your intended destination is just next-door.
Please do your part and make safety part of your preparation and planning for any day on the trails.
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