Staying Safe in the Cold, Part 2

It looks like we may finally get some more snow on Thanksgiving, which should make snowmobile owners happy as their season inches closer.

In Part 2 of his series, ‘Staying Safe in the Cold’, Mike Stark shares advice for both new and experienced riders.

Once the mounds of snow accumulate throughout the U.P., snowmobilers will come out in full force on the many trails in the region.

With so many riders out there, accidents and crashes are bound to happen.

Last winter, there were 22 snowmobile-related fatalities in the state, although just 1 was from Marquette County.

DNR Conservation Officer Elton Luce and Marquette Powersports owner Sarah Wolfenberg say alcohol is by far the biggest contributor to snowmobile crashes.

Getting into an accident out on the trails can become especially troubling when you consider how difficult it often is for medical help to reach victims.

Luce says trails are often in highly remote areas with minimal or even nonexistent road systems nearby.

That’s why Marquette County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Errol Lukkarinen recommends planning ahead and taking it easy on speed when you’re on the trails.

He says the more speed you use, the longer the distance the sled travels between your brain telling you to slow down and your hand actually engaging the brake and killing the speed.

In case you’re a beginner or you’re getting back on the snow machine again after a long absence, it might be a good idea to take a safety course.

Luce and Wolfenberg say the courses are very inexpensive and sometimes free of charge.

The folks at Marquette Powersports also suggest that if you’re a beginner, it would be a good idea to go early in the day — on a weekday when possible — because that’s when the trails are the least crowded.

Studying a map before hitting the trails will also help you stay on course.

Tomorrow, Mike will wrap up ‘Staying Safe in the Cold’ with skiing and snowboarding safety tips.