Sask. Snowmobile Association reminding riders to stay safe this winter
YORKTON -- Snowmobiling remains a popular winter sport and a local organization has released some tips to keep riders safe while they take on Saskatchewan trails this season.
Saskatchewan Snowmobile Safety Week began Jan. 17 and will conclude Jan. 23, but the message it promotes remains.
"Out there doing a sport that can be extremely fun, but not done safely can also be dangerous," said Leah Switzer, the executive director at the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association (SSA).
The SSA, alongside local clubs like the Yorkton Sno-Riders, are promoting the buddy system, while remaining six feet apart.
Danny Wasylenchuk, president of the Yorkton Sno-Riders, said not riding along is "one of the biggest safety precautions that you can take."
Proper maintenance of a sled is also key to safety while on a ride, as well as sticking to the marked trails.
"I think Saskatchewan in general has some of the best signing they've been recognized as the best signing in the world, actually," said Barry Bradshaw, who is the trail boss of the Good Spirit area for the Yorkton Sno-Riders.
There are maps outlining the trails located at each junction. All these signs face south to help riders get their sense of direction.
Even though they are well marked the Sno-Riders suggests new riders bring someone who knows the lay of the land along with them.
"Take somebody's who's experienced who knows the area, you know, so you don't get lost," said Wasylenchuk.
A proper fitting helmet, warm gear, a first aid kit and snacks are also must-haves for a day out on the trails.
COVID-19 has its own protocols when it comes to outdoor gathering sizes and using shelters. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and only one household can be inside a shelter at a time.
This winter’s mild temperatures are adding an extra layer of precautions, said Switzer.
"Honestly, in this type of a season don't travel on any bodies of water that you're not sure what the ice depth is," added Switzer.
New riders born after Jan. 1, 1989 are required to complete a snowmobile safety course. This course is currently being taught virtually and is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All snowmobiles must also be registered with SGI.
"Use your head a little bit and think, just use common sense and be careful out there," said Bradshaw.