Don't let a fun filled day end in tragedy!

According to The Detroit Free Press there has already been 3 snowmobile deaths this winter. Dennis Pellinen, 54, of Ishpeming, Lynne Bever, of Linwood, and  Jason Saelens lost their lives while enjoying the outdoors. Sometimes we all need a reminder on how to have fun while staying safe.

When riding the trails Markel has some advice on how to stay safe!

1. Check the weather forecast and the trail conditions.
It is always a good idea to check the weather and trail conditions to plan ahead. If the trail is frozen, the wind chill is too low, or a blizzard with white out conditions is in the forecast, you will want to plan your ride for another day.

2. Wear appropriate clothes and protective gear. 
Staying warm and dry during your ride will make it more enjoyable and safer. Wear a snowmobile suit, which commonly consists of a jacket and insulated bibs. Under your snowmobile suit, dress in layers. Stay away from cotton because if it gets wet, it will freeze. Choose polyester blends to wick moisture away from your body. In addition, wear goggles or a face shield if you do not have a full-face helmet, socks (no cotton), waterproof gloves, winter hat, facemask and winter boots. Always wear a DOT-approved helmet, not only to keep you warm but to also protect your head from injury. Make sure children have a helmet that properly fits.

3. Inspect your snowmobile before your ride. 
Make sure your snowmobile is running properly before heading out on the trail.

4. Bring a buddy. 
Riding with a friend or in a group is fun and also safer, especially on trails you have never taken before. Someone else can help you if your snowmobile breaks down or if you get into an accident. It is also recommended to tell a friend or family member your plans and route for your ride in case you do get stranded.

5. Carry a first-aid kit, emergency kit and repair kit.
Keep a basic first-aid kit in the snowmobile in case of injury. It should include: disinfecting wipes, bandages, hand sanitizer, gauze, adhesive tape and Band-Aids. In addition, carry an emergency kit with waterproof matches, flashlight, compass, map, blanket, water, snacks and a knife. A repair kit is also essential and should include: duct tape, tools, spare belt, tow rope, spark plugs and pry bar.

6. Avoid frozen rivers.
It is impossible to gauge the thickness of ice. Ice can easily crack and give way under your snowmobile.

7. Do not speed.
Driving at a moderate pace will allow you to react to an unexpected occurrence on your trail and avoid an accident. Many trails have posted speed limits to follow.

8. Stay on the trail. 
Marked trails are safer because they have been groomed for you and are less likely to have hazards. Going off trail can result in accidents because you are treading on unfamiliar terrain. Also, many ‘public’ trails run close to private property. Unless you have received permission from the landowner, stay on the marked trail. Failure to do so can also result in the trail being closed to the public in the future. Be a responsible rider by following the posted signs and trail markers.

9. Children under the age of six should never ride as a passenger according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The snowmobile can ride rough and it takes a strong person to hold on tight, especially for long periods of time. Children younger than six lack this strength.

10. Do not pull people on anything behind your snowmobile.
Snowmobiles are not designed to pull sleds, skiers or saucers and it is very unsafe to do so.

Have fun and be safe this winter!

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