Snowmobile emergency checklist
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What do to before and after an emergency
Once you’re out on your snowmobile and you encounter an urgent situation such as unexpected weather or accident, it’s too late to be thinking of your emergency checklist. Be proactive and always read it over before setting off. Check it each season to see if there’s anything you want to add. And always bring your list (plasticized to protect it from rain and snow) along for the ride.
- Make sure you’ve gone over your equipment maintenance checklist.
- Check to see if everybody going out with you is physically fit and can endure cold weather if you happen to break down.
- Take a look at your protective clothing checklist.
- Bring food (energy bars, etc.) and water in case you are delayed or encounter an emergency situation.
- Inform people of your planned trip, the route you’ll be taking and your planned route of return.
- Check the weather before you leave; avoid snowmobiling in storms even if the challenge seems like a lot of fun; it is simply dangerous to take a vehicle out in any weather conditions which reduce visibility.
- If you do leave and the weather turns bad, turn back.
- Take safe routes and avoid areas where there may be avalanches, thin ice on water crossings. If you are heading for avalanche-prone areas, information can be found on www.avalanche.ca.
- Read over your emergency checklist.
Your emergency checklist
If you’re planning an extended day or overnight snowmobile trip, you should never leave without these essentials. If the load seems heavy, share the carrying of equipment and food supplies with your snowmobile companions. If you feel that you’re carrying too much, check your list and see if you can narrow it down to these essentials:
- You’re wearing proper clothing to protect you from the elements.
- You’ve brought snowshoes or skis in case of an emergency breakdown.
- Your vehicle is well-maintained to avoid breakdowns.
- You have enough food and emergency supplies if you break down (energy bars, chocolate, nuts, dried fruit).
- You have a survival kit (see below).
A basic survival kit
First-aid kit - suggested items:
- - scissors (ideally, stainless steel blunt blades)
- - splinter forceps
- - wound closure strips
- - gauze & tape
- - antibiotic ointment
- - antiseptic wipes
- - rubbing alcohol
- - latex or preferably nitrile gloves
Other important items to bring:
- - map in waterproof holder
- - water-proof matches
- - compass with a mirror
- - hatchet
- - knife
- - rope
- - candles (long-lasting emergency-type)
- - electrical or duct tape
- - emergency flares
- - emergency whistle (pealess and non-metallic)
- - LED flashlight or lamp
- - spare batteries for flashlight or lamp
- - chemical hand and/or foot warmers
- - tarp for temporary shelter
- - spark plugs
- - extra ignition key
- - spare drive belt
- - small tool kit (if one did not come with your sled)
What to do if you are in an emergency situation
If you break down, these are a few basics to keep in mind:
- Remain calm. If you’re with a group, decide on your plan of action and reassure any companions who may be feeling stress.
- Avoid walking anywhere in deep snow since it can take up to 2-3 days on foot to cover areas traveled by a snowmobile in 20 0r 30 minutes.
- Stay warm; if you’re properly dressed, you shouldn’t have to worry about this for at least 4-5 hours.
- Conserve your energy and warmth by staying close together.
- Quench your thirst with melting snow if you don’t have bottled water.
- Check your food rations.
- Build a fire, if possible. And be careful not to set off fires in the immediate area.
- Build a shelter; use your snowmobile and or tarp (if you have it); if not use tree boughs to build the shelter. Another option is to build a snow shelter or Quinzee Hut, which is a combination of an igloo and snow cave.
- If somebody is suffering from frostbite, slowly warm the affected area. Do not rub the frostbitten skin; this must be treated by a physician.
- If somebody is suffering from hypothermia, cover the person with warm, dry clothing or blankets.
- Signal for help: use fire, whistles, flares or make signs in the snow. You can also use your feet to tramp the following distress signals into the snow; (be sure these are at least 100 feet long, so that they can be seen by a plane).
International distress signals:
||Require doctor-serious injury
||Require medical supplies
||Unable to proceed
||Need map and compass
||Need food and water
||Need direction to proceed