A checklist for safe snowmobiling

Whether it’s to enjoy the thrill of the ride or the beauty of nature, to go places unreachable by other means or just to spend time with family and friends, millions of people enjoy the outdoors on snowmobiles.

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), representing the four North American snowmobile makers, reports 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the United States. Snowmobile-related activities account for $26 billion in economic activity annually, including accessories, supplies, gasoline and tourism. While some use their machines for work, about 80 percent use them for leisure activities.

Snowmobiles are generally registered and regulated by individual states, and no central system compiles reports on snowmobile accidents, injuries or fatalities. Of those tracked by several states, most are the result of collisions with trees or other fixed objects with excessive speed or alcohol impairment as the most common contributing factors.

ISMA promotes safe snowmobiling through its Safe Rider program, and cites dozens of ways to protect yourself and those around you.


  • Ensure your snowmobile is in proper mechanical operating condition before going on a ride. Check gas, oil, belt condition and carbides under the skis before each ride.
  • Dress for the conditions! Layering clothing, including a windproof outer layer, is the best way to stay warm on cold days. Fingers and toes typically get cold first, so be sure to wear warm gloves (mitts with liners are best) and insulated boots.
  • Wear a safety-certified helmet in the right size. You should have a clear face shield on the helmet or a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.
  • Avoid riding alone, especially at night. If you do, make sure you tell others the route you will be taking so they will know where to look if you are overdue.
  • Stay on the marked route when riding trails on private property. Hidden objects, such as fences, tree stumps and stretched wire, may be concealed by snow.
  • Slow down! Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that allows ample reaction time for any situation.
  • Stay RIGHT when riding on trails, especially on corners or when cresting hills to avoid colliding with other snowmobiles coming from the opposite direction.
  • Carry a first-aid kit. At a minimum, it should include a flashlight, knife, duct tape, compass, map, tow rope and waterproof matches.
  • Carry a fully-charged cell phone; it can be a terrific asset if trouble arises, but keep in mind that cell phones have limited service range in remote areas.
  • Use caution when crossing roads — come to a complete stop, make sure no traffic is approaching from either direction, then cross at a right angle to traffic.
  • Don’t drink and ride! Drinking alcohol before snowmobiling or during your ride slows your reactions, impairs your judgment and is a leading contributor to snowmobiling deaths.
  • Stay next to the markers if a trail crosses waterways. Ice conditions are never guaranteed, as rapidly changing weather and moving water affect the thickness and strength of ice.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. See your local Ayres Group Agent agent for insurance coverage and advice.

Courtesy: Cincinnati Insurance

Now that you have the keys — what does that mean?

All your hard work paid off and now you finally have your driver’s license. Hours in the car with Dad gripping his seat and days spent in driver’s ed were worth it because the keys are now in your hands. I remember the feelings of freedom, independence and excitement when I received my license. But with the look in my dad’s eyes as he handed the keys to me, I knew driving came with added responsibility.Here are things to keep in mind to make sure your driving experience is safe and fun.


Your choices when driving may affect yourself and others.

  • Never use alcohol or drugs when you know you will be getting behind the wheel of a car.
  • Make sure every passenger in your car is using a seatbelt. Follow any restrictions your state may have on the number of passengers allowed depending on the driver’s age.
  • Be aware of other drivers around you, and drive defensively by anticipating the actions of other drivers.
  • Concentrate on your driving and keep distractions to a minimum. Turn the radio down, don’t use your phone while driving and never text and drive.
  • Learn what to do in an event of an accident or breakdown. Know who to call and what resources you need. Program emergency numbers and contacts into your phone.
  • Keep your registration and proof of insurance information in the car.


Driving responsibly increases your safety and the safety of other motorists. Follow these guidelines to keep your insurance premiums as low as possible:

  • Obey all traffic laws. Getting a ticket may increase the amount of your insurance payments.
  • Avoid situations that may lead to accidents. Involvement in just one accident could increase your cost of insurance.
  • Consider choosing higher physical damage coverage deductibles.
  • Drive a standard vehicle. Sports cars and high-performance vehicles may be cool, but those vehicles mean higher insurance costs.


All the above tips may seem like common sense, but they are important to remember and to be reminded of often. One way to have a great driving experience is to create a written agreement with your parents and establish rules. A written agreement can help keep you and your parents on the same page.

  • How many passengers are permitted in your car?
  • Can you listen to the radio?
  • Do you need to be home by a certain time?
  • You can download a sample contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting your driver’s license is exciting! But to keep the keys and be a responsible driver, develop good driving habits that will stay with you forever. Have fun and stay safe!


Need insurance for a new driver?, contact your local Ayres Group Agent


Courtesy: Cincinnati Insurance

Ready for snow? Clear the path

Ready for snow? Clear the path 

As a property owner, you want to do whatever you can to welcome visitors to your home or business and keep your family, employees and customers safe. Snow and ice on walkways, roadways, driveways and parking lots can present extra challenges during winter months.

Have a plan to stay ahead on snow and ice removal to minimize slips, falls and automobile accidents outside your home or business. Also protect against slip and fall hazards in interior vestibules, entrances and walkways by removing water, placing rugs or adding signage. You may want to contract with a commercial snow removal service for larger properties or businesses.

  • Create a snow removal plan that involves your staff, a contractor or a combination of the two to remove water, ice and snow.
  • Maintain adequate supplies of snow-melt chemicals and sand.
  • Mark all encumbrances and obstructions that may not be visible to snow-removal equipment.
  • Identify emergency equipment such as fire hydrants, standpipes and post indicator valves – cast iron vertical indicator posts designed to operate the control valve of an automatic fire sprinkler system.
  • Contract with a snow removal firm if your employees are not capable of adequately removing snow. Make sure the snow removal company has appropriate insurance coverage and adds you as an additional insured under its policy. .
  • Consider how you’ll remove snow accumulation from the roof. Will it be done by employees or by a contractor? If a snowblower is used, be sure to set the height of the snowblower shave plate high enough to prevent damage to underlying roofing material.
  • Be aware of local regulations about clearing sidewalks. Some communities have snow removal ordinances that require homeowners to remove snow within a specified time period (often 24 hours) from the part of the city sidewalk that adjoins their property. Homeowner and condo associations also may have specific rules about snow removal.
  • Take care when shoveling to protect your back. Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines suggest pushing snow rather than lifting it whenever possible and taking frequent breaks to avoid frostbite or exhaustion.
  • If you use a snowblower, protect yourself and others from carbon monoxide dangers. Don’t try to clear clogs by hand. Consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Snow Thrower Safety guidebook.
  • You may choose to salt your sidewalk, driveway or parking areas for safety. If you are concerned about environmental effects of salt, the Utah State University Cooperative Extension Service has a guide to deicing compounds and environmentally friendly alternatives.