Maybe you live where everyone knows to keep a bag of cat litter in the trunk in the winter. Maybe you hang your Christmas lights on palm trees. Whether you have to travel to winter fun or can enjoy the snow in your own backyard, there are important ways to do it safely.
Before heading out on your ATV or snowmobile to play in the powder, consider these tips.
The most important safety measures happen before you hit the trail. Look at the weather forecast to avoid any surprises. Plan out your route and share it with your travel companions — because we know you know better than to be out there alone. Having a tracking device on your vehicle helps you recall past routes and allows anyone with access to your tracking device’s app to find you at any time. Make sure your vehicle battery, cell phone battery, and anything else that needs to be charged is charged.
Dress for Success
At the risk of sounding like your mom, wear a coat — it’s cold out there! But more importantly, wear layers. Most cold-weather experts suggest a three-layer system – one base layer for moisture wicking, a middle layer for insulation, and a top layer (that coat!) for wind protection. Make sure to include your helmet, gloves, preferred cold-weather footwear, and appropriate eye and face protection.
Pack a Bag
You might not think you need supplies if you aren’t planning a long trip, but keep some essentials on hand. A basic first aid kit is always a good idea, as is a basic tool kit for minor vehicle repairs. You might also consider packing a small shovel and a winch to get you out of tight spots (make sure the winch isn’t frozen).
While it’s never safe or legal to drink and operate a vehicle, drinking in the cold is even more dangerous. You might not immediately notice the effects of hypothermia, and it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. Drive sober. Also avoid ice. Although ice over 5 inches thin is generally considered safe, it’s hard to judge and it’s an extremely risky chance to take.
Know What to Do in Emergencies
Accidents happen, but if you’ve followed the steps above, you can mitigate the damages if you find yourself in trouble. Shed any wet clothes to retain body heat and find shelter from the elements as soon as you can. If you’re lost or stranded or your group becomes separated, you can use your vehicle tracking device to reunite. It can send alerts in case a vehicle battery starts to run low, a vehicle experiences sudden impact, or someone accidentally ventures outside your predetermined riding area.
Being prepared for the possible dangers will make your snow adventures memorable in only the best ways.