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ATV & Snowmobile Safety

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Taking a ride on an ATV, UTV or snowmobile is a great way to be active and enjoy the beautiful Maine outdoors. Following safety precautions, rules and common sense are necessary ways to ensure your ride on one of these machines is as safe as it is fun.

ATVs and UTVs are intended for off-road use and may be difficult to control on pavement and other surfaces. Different ATV models handle differently so it’s important to familiarize yourself with each machine you ride by reading the owner’s manual and following the safety, maintenance and operational guidelines.

Because ATVs can cause serious injuries if used improperly, riders should also know their own abilities and limitations and never overdrive their machine just to keep up with others or impress someone.

If you have a youngster who is going to operate or ride on an ATV, they should be supervised at all times by an adult. Attending a safety course will provide the youngster with a wealth of knowledge. While a child may be the recommended age to operate an ATV, the supervising adult needs to take the youngster’s strength, skills and judgment into consideration when deciding if they are fit to ride.

Having a pre-ride safety checklist is a good idea for all riders and includes checking the mechanical condition of the machine and making sure you have spare parts, survival items and personal items needed for safety and comfort.

Riders should also leave a trip plan with someone else that lists their destination, travel times, contact information and anything else that could aid in finding a rider who gets lost or injured.

When it comes to snowmobiling, the safest rule is to never cross lakes or rivers, since doing so puts you at risk of plunging through the ice. If you decide to snowmobile on ice, make sure the ice is safely frozen and only trust your own judgment.

Drowning is a leading cause of snowmobile fatalities so buying a buoyant snowmobile suit could be a life-saving decision. If you do go through the ice, your helmet and snowmobile suit, even if it’s non-buoyant, may keep you afloat for several minutes. Try sliding back onto the ice, using anything sharp to dig in for pull. Kicking your feet like a seal can help propel you onto the ice.

If the ice keeps breaking, continue moving toward the shore or the direction from which you came. Don’t remove your gloves or mitts. Once on the ice, you should roll away from the hole, making sure not to stand up until you are well away from it.

Snowmobile operators should also always know the area they ride in, ride at safe speeds, signal their riding intentions, watch for other snowmobilers and never operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Always remember: ATVs, UTVs and snowmobiles are not toys, so taking these precautions can mean the difference between an enjoyable time and a dangerous one.