How to stay safe while snowmobiling in Manitoba this winter

WINNIPEG — With what’s being described as unprecedented ice conditions in Manitoba, snowmobilers are being warned that if they go out on the ice, they need to be prepared to fall through.

“Wearing a Floatation Snowmobile Suit (floater coat) or lifejacket when out on the ice is the minimum preparation every person should take,”said Dr. Christopher Love, water smart coordinator for the Livesaving Society Manitoba, in a news release.

Earlier this month two snowmobilers fell through the ice in the Victoria Beach area, prompting first responders to warn the public of the dangers of thin ice.  

STAYING SAFE WHILE SNOWMOBILING

With many of the province’s trails set to open this month, STARS, Snowmobilers of Manitoba Inc. (Snoman) and the Livesaving Society Manitoba are reminding Manitobans of the importance of taking proper safety measures while snowmobiling.

According to Alan Butler, president of Snoman, Manitoba has the third most extensive snowmobile trail system in the country. He encourages snowmobilers to take the following precautions:

  • Don’t ride a snowmobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Don’t trespass on private property or ride on someone’s land without their permission;
  • Wear a helmet;
  • Ride to the conditions of the terrain and to your abilities;
  • Bring tool and first aid kits; and
  • Stay on designated trails.

MINDING YOUR SPEED

Grant Therrien, provincial director of operations for STARS Manitoba, said that from 2017 to 2019 STARS responded to 12 calls involving snowmobiles. He said in many of these cases excessive speed was an issue.

“We have seen incidents where a snowmobiler was going too fast for either the conditions or the trail, and lost control,” he said.

“Many of them also occurred in remote locations making it very difficult, or impossible, for the injured riders to be reached by ground EMS.”

Therrien noted that many of these incidents resulted in serious injuries.

“The snowmobile calls we respond to often have devastating results, ranging from fatalities to life-altering injuries,” he said.

“For those who are fortunate to survive, they often have to endure grueling rehabilitation that can take months and even years. So if you are heading out on your snowmobile this winter, please do so safely.”