MUSKOKA - On the heels of two recent fatal snowmobile accidents in central Ontario, police are issuing a number of safety tips to those planning to hit the trails.
Police issued a release earlier this week in which they reminded snowmobilers to always exercise caution, and to travel at speeds appropriate for their skill level and weather conditions.
“With the fluctuation in temperatures this year, some trails have become very icy and difficult to navigate,” said the release.
Safety tips include a reminder to always wear a helmet, to travel only on trails that are groomed and designated as being open, ensuring ice is strong enough before travelling upon it, and keeping an eye out for open water around docks and shorelines that may be caused by operating bubblers.
Snowmobilers are reminded to be wary of lower water levels, which can cause typically submerged rocks to now become exposed. The release said drifting or blowing snow can also obscure the visibility of oncoming obstacles.
The OPP release also reminded snowmobilers to travel at posted speed limits, and to travel on machines they are familiar with.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs website urges snowmobilers to protect themselves from the effects of wind chill, which can cause hypothermia. The group says windproof outer garments, extra layers and a balaclava will provide some protection. A lowered face shield will prevent wind burn and help protect a rider’s skin and eyes.
The federation also reminds riders to use nationally approved snowmobile hand signals, and not to drive snowmobiles after drinking.
Because nine out of 10 fatalities occur after dark, riders are also urged to slow down and not to overdrive their headlights. Outer clothing with reflective bands, riding with others and always dressing in a full snowmobile outfit is also recommended.