Shining a light on safety

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association encourages all snowmobile associations to take part by organizing their own campaigns

by Kris Dickeson

Alberta Snowmobile Association executive director Chris Brookes.
Alberta Snowmobile Association executive director Chris Brookes. photo courtesy of Chris Brookes

The snowmobile community always works hard to promote safe and responsible sledding, but this topic is front and centre every January during International Snowmobile Safety Week. Coordinated by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), the event encourages all snowmobile associations, clubs, affiliates, governments and enthusiasts to take part by organizing their own campaigns.

Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA) executive director Chris Brookes said many sledders in that province get involved.

“I hope to see four or five of our clubs throughout the province plan a safe ride this year with the media, emergency services personnel and local government," said Brookes. "That’s what makes it successful, getting the message out there.”

The ISMA states the purpose of International Snowmobile Safety Week is to expose people to safe snowmobiling practices and to demonstrate how operating safely can prevent mishap.

“We highlight safety all year and are happy to participate in this initiative, as we can take this opportunity to really draw attention to it,” said Brookes. “We teach people beacon/probe/shovel right away and drill it in, then build on that knowledge. If we want people to be safe when snowmobiling, we have to tell them what it entails.”

The ASA has instructors who tour schools throughout Alberta offering a free program called Safe All Season Riding. The program teaches children and teens to always wear a helmet and safety gear and never ride alone, as well as giving them the opportunity to touch a snowmobile, see how it works and how it feels.

The ASA also runs a seminar on safety in the mountains, which helps snowmobilers be prepared for different terrain as well as educate them on avalanche hazards.

“Society is more safety aware and focused than it used to be,” said Brookes. “And this starts with the youth and is apparent by the fact that 10 years ago a bike helmet bylaw was passed. Now those kids' kids are learning early on the importance of safety.”

International Snowmobile Safety Week runs January 18 to 26, 2014. For more information go to the ISMA website at

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association unites the four snowmobile manufacturers: Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris and Yamaha.

Safe snowmobiling means:

  • Never consuming alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling.
  • Becoming familiar with the snowmobile you ride.
  • Operating at safe and reasonable speeds.
  • Staying on trails and areas where snowmobiling is permitted.
  • Avoiding travel on unfamiliar frozen bodies of water.
  • Using extra caution at night.
  • Keeping your snowmobile properly maintained.
  • Becoming familiar with the terrain you will travel on.
  • Listening to the weather forecast before you leave.
  • Always wearing a helmet and proper clothing.
  • Never riding alone, and letting someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Carrying emergency supplies and learning survival skills.

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