The Star-Herald

Stay safe on the snow

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — International Snowmobile Safety Week is Jan. 20-28, and the Presque Isle Fire Department has issued helpful hints to assist everyone to remain safe on the trails. 

According to Presque Isle grant writer and public information officer Kim Smith, last season the Maine Warden Service responded to 85 personal injury accidents involving snowmobiles, which resulted in nine deaths.  

“Though those numbers are down compared to 2002-2003, when we had 16 deaths in the state of Maine, everyone needs to be vigilant in having safety a priority while enjoying this $200-billion-a-year sport,” Smith said.

She added that most often, speed and alcohol are the leading factors that contribute to those accidents. “Snowmobilers should control their speed for the conditions, weather and trails.  Every year, several of these accidents occur due to not being in control of your machine around corners hitting trees or another machine coming in opposite direction. Remember, alcohol and driving anything do not mix — and slow down.”

PIFD officials offered these safety points to consider before beginning a snowmobile trip.

  1. Check the weather forecast. Be sure you know what to expect before you leave.
  2. Wear appropriate clothes and protective gear.
  3. Inspect your machine. Be sure to keep your machine maintained every year, but    still be sure to check everything over before each ride.
  4. Pack before you leave. Even if you only plan a short ride or trip, you should always have certain things packed such as matches or lighters, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, and a cell phone with extra batteries or a charger.  If possible, also pack spare dry clothes.
  5. One is the loneliest number. Always try to ride with a buddy. If you are going alone, always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.  Try to call and check in every few hours to update them of your location.
  6. Be cautious crossing ice. Many accidents occur from going through bodies of water. Newer type snowmobile jackets today have floatation devices built in that are activated when contacted with water.
  7. Stay on marked trails. It is safer and also respectful to the landowners.
  8. Lastly, slow down — and no alcohol.

“The Presque Isle Fire Department would like to wish everyone a safe and happy winter season,” Smith added. “Happy sledding.”

Anyone with questions or concerns may contact the fire department at 769-0881.

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