WEST CENTRAL MICHIGAN —Over the river and through the hill, snowmobilers are itching to go … not to mention skiers, snowshoers and ice fishers.
As the days grow colder and the snow grows deeper, winter enthusiasts will be venturing out. And the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages those who play out in Michigan’s winter wonderland to be safe.
“People often get caught up in the excitement of the moment and overlook general winter safety,” Lt. Tom Wanless, with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Recreational Safety, Enforcement and Safety Section, said in a news release. “We want to send out a beginning-of-the-season reminder to please keep safety in mind this winter. Dress for the weather, check the forecast before you go out and, if you’re snowmobiling, please ride sober and at a safe speed.”
To prepare for any winter activity, the DNR suggests the following tips:
- Wear light layers that can easily be added or removed. It is possible to overheat even during the winter.
- Carry the appropriate equipment for your activity, such as a flashlight, rope, ice picks or ice claws.
- Have spare equipment available in case something breaks.
- Stay hydrated and fueled. Bring water and snacks.
- Bring a buddy.
- Inform others about where you will be and how long you plan to be gone. Schedule check-in times.
- Carry a two-way communication device that receives service in remote areas.
- Be aware of your health. If you’re not feeling well, don’t go out.
Before hopping on your snowmobile, the Michigan DNR reminds riders to register their sleds with the Secretary of State and purchase a trail permit, a requirement unless you stay on private property. Trail permits run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 and allows riders to go on state-designated trails, including the White Pine and Pere Marquette trails, between Dec. 1 and March 31.
In addition, riders ages 12-16 must take an approved safety course and obtain a safety certificate. (The DNR recommends a safety class for all riders, but it’s only required for ages 12-16). An online course may be found at www.snowmobile-ed.com/michigan.
General safety tips for all riders include:
- Slow Down: Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal accidents.
- Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition.
- Don’t drink: Alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction time.
- Always wear insulated boots and protective clothing, including a helmet, gloves and eye protection.
- Check the weather conditions before you depart.
- Never ride alone.
- When possible, avoid crossing frozen bodies of water. Never operate in a single file when crossing frozen bodies of water.
- Always be alert to avoid fences …….