While snowmobilers expect the unexpected, they can help protect themselves from serious injury
Long-time snowmobiler Joe Thievin knows that even if you’re riding with care, the unexpected can happen.
“I was enjoying a beautiful trail in the middle of nowhere when a part in my suspension failed. It sent me crashing into the trees and pinned me under my sled,” said Joe who works as a project coordinator at Manitoba Hydro. “I broke my arm, six ribs, my thumb and had a collapsed lung.”
Joe explains that any number of unexpected things can happen out on the trails, including run-ins with wildlife. “I hit a deer once,” said Joe who added that he was glad it wasn’t a moose. “Wildlife hits are more common than you’d think, especially in low-visibility conditions since the animals tend to hang out on the trail.”
Joe credits safety guidelines with keeping himself and many riders alive and healthy.
“I have a GPS, a spot tracker and a cell phone with enough batteries on me when I head out,” said Joe. “I also tell someone where I’m going, when I’m going to be back and as a rule, don’t ride at night.”
As a Manitoba Hydro employee, Joe also is very aware of some other hazards to snowmobilers. Keep these ground rules in mind when you’re hitting the trails this winter:
- Reduce your speed around utility poles. Guy wires attached to the poles normally have yellow covers to make them more visible, but sometimes the covers have been damaged or removed, or they are difficult to see because they are covered by drifting snow. Darkness, fog, and blowing snow can make them difficult to spot and avoid.
- Stay off waterways near hydroelectric dams and generating stations where fluctuating water levels and currents may result in thin and unstable ice conditions.
- Steer clear of downed poles and power lines. Nearby objects can be energized by a live power line, so avoid the entire area. Report the danger by calling Manitoba Hydro as soon as possible.
- If someone does make contact with a downed power line, either directly or through their machine, do not touch them or any objects around them. Call 911.
- Avoid the areas around hydro substations and any other hydroelectric facilities. Private property and unmarked terrain can contain unexpected and deadly hazards.
Find more information on snowmobile safety, visit hydro.mb.ca/safety/outdoors.
Prepared by Linda Carter, PHEc Public Safety & Education Coordinator, Manitoba Hydro