snowmobiling safetyIt’s February and here in New England that means time outdoor winter activities such as snowmobiling and unfortunately accidents happen.

This past weekend, one person was killed and two others were injured in different snowmobile accidents. Officials say Northeast Credit Union’s president and chief executive officer Peter Kavalauskas, 62, of Dover was riding with his son and a friend early Saturday morning on Millen Pond in Washington when he lost control of his snowmobile. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials are saying that speed does appear to be a factor (source: WCVB).

Winchester police and fire officials, along with New Hampshire Fish and Game, responded to a report of an accident on Old Wesport Road. Police say Michael Rouleau, 51, was seriously hurt after crashing his snowmobile in a field across from a trail. Speed also contributed to the accident and Rouleau is expected to be okay (source: WCVB).

Fish and Game were called to Brookline late Friday night after Eva Brumleve, 39, crashed a snowmobile into a tree. Brumleve was taken to a local hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries (source: WCVB).

Snowmobiling is increasing in popularity, but when operating a piece of machinery that can reach up to 90 mph and weighs up to 600 pounds, accidents are bound to happen.

  • Snowmobiling causes more than 200 deaths and nearly 14,000 accidents each year.
  • Children younger than 17 years sustain 12% of all snowmobile injuries.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed available snowmobile injury data from 1997 to 1998. During that time there were more than 10,000 emergency department visits related to snowmobile accidents. Ten percent of those involved were younger than 15 years of age. Head trauma was the leading cause of death.

Whether you are experienced or a beginner, the following snowmobiling safety tips are always important to keep in mind:

  • Alcohol and snowmobiling do not mix. The age-old myth that alcohol warms you up does just the opposite: it can increase the risk of hypothermia, a dangerous lowering of the body’s core temperature. With alcohol, you may only feel warmer, while your body chills dangerously. Alcohol also increases fatigue, drowsiness, impairs vision and decision making, and slows your reaction time.
  • Know your riding area. Get a map, talk to locals, and don’t wander off into areas that aren’t clearly marked.
  • Know how to properly operate your snowmobile and follow all the rules.
  • Dress appropriately. Dress in layers and wear wind-proof outer layers. Hats, mittens, and of course a helmet should always be worn.
  • Snowmobile with another person. It is not only more fun, it is safer.
  • Be aware of the elements. Stay alert for dark conditions, avalanches, and bodies of water.

Getting out in the cold, fresh air and making the most of the snow here in New England can be exhilarating. The activities are a great thrill but should always be enjoyed with the proper safety precautions. The next time you get on a snowmobile remember these snowmobiling safety tips to ensure that you have a fun and safe time!