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


DATE: March 2015

CONTACT: Sally Stuby, Campaign Chairperson

Ph. 269-435-7432 or


Centreville, Mich. – Supporters of St. Joseph County 4-H programs have an opportunity to double their personal support for 4-H by helping to “Make the Match for St. Joseph County 4-H.”

St. Joseph County 4-H has set a goal of raising $20,000 locally which, if successful, will result in the county 4-H program qualifying for a 1:1 match from the Michigan 4-H Foundation of every dollar raised to build an endowment for 4-H programs in St. Joseph County.

Two local insurance agencies have teamed up to start the campaign.  Ayres Insurance Agency and Chupp Insurance, both of Sturgis, are donating $250 each to the campaign.  In addition, Fremont Insurance Company through Chupp Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance Agency through Ayres Insurance, are each contributing an additional $250 to the fund.  Jeff Brazo, Vice President or Ayres Insurance and Rod Chupp, Co-Owner of Chupp Insurance, noted that they offer this total of $1,000 as a challenge to other insurance agencies and companies to step up and support the campaign.  Mr. Chupp noted, “Agriculture is the bedrock of our county and state economy.  As such, those individuals and businesses that are fortunate enough to enjoy an active role in our agricultural community should naturally desire to help sustain that heritage through programs and opportunities such as this 4-H Endowment.”

Sally Stuby, “Make the Match” campaign chairperson, said, “Research has shown that youth participating in 4-H have better social and leadership skills, are more likely to attend post-secondary education, and are better prepared for career and life challenges.  This endowment will provide some permanent, long-term support for 4-H youth in St. Joseph County.”

County 4-H programs in Michigan have historically been funded by a partnership between federal, state and county governments, Michigan State University and gifts from private supporters.  With increasing reductions in public support for 4-H, 4-H families, volunteers, clubs, alumni and other friends are coming together to build private support to sustain 4-H in local communities.

The St. Joseph County 4-H Endowment, when doubled by the match, will provide annual support for current  4-H program delivery, for future 4-H program enhancements and other areas of greatest need that would serve to advance delivery of 4-H in St. Joseph County.

Eva Beeker, St. Joseph County Program Coordinator said, “The Make the Match campaign will help to provide money to begin new programs within 4-H to better serve our youth in St. Joseph County. Programs like robotics, geocaching and other fun yet educational areas that are of interest to today’s youth will be explored and implemented with the money that will be made available.”

The “Make the Match for St. Joseph County” campaign is made possible by grants from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and gifts made by individual leadership donors to the Michigan 4-H Foundation.  The goal is to raise $1 million in endowment for county 4-H programs in Michigan that will in turn be doubled by the match from these leadership contributors.

For information on how you can help “Make the Match for St. Joseph County
4-H”, visit the campaign web site at  or contact the St. Joseph County MSU Extension office at 269-467-5511.  Sally Stuby, campaign chairperson, may be contacted at 269-435-7432 or

St. Joseph County 4-H is a program of Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Programs whose mission is to create non-formal, educational opportunities to help youth thrive in a complex and changing world.  The Michigan 4-H Foundation supports Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs to prepare youth for meaningful and productive lives.