Snowmobiling is an activity enjoyed by an estimated 3 million-plus people in the United States, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA).

Aspirus Health aims to expose people to safe snowmobiling practices and to demonstrate how operating safely can prevent mishaps, especially those that require medical care.

Clinic Orthopedics and Related Research found that there are approximately 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries due to snowmobile accidents each year in North America, making snowmobile safety a significant public health issue. It is especially timely right now, with Covid-19 surging and stressing health care systems throughout the upper Midwest.

“People should be doing everything they can right now to keep themselves safe and healthy, and that means taking all necessary precautions when they are out on the trails,” says Director of Nursing and Regional Emergency Services for Aspirus Health, Julie Monville. The good news is snowmobile-related injuries that require access to emergency care are totally avoidable.”

ISMA offers 12 tips to ensure safe riding out on the trails this year:

• Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling.

• Become familiar with the snowmobile you ride.

• Operate at safe and reasonable speeds.

• Stay on trails and areas where snowmobiling is permitted.

• Avoid travel on unfamiliar frozen bodies of water.

• Use extra caution at night.

• Keep your snowmobile properly maintained.

• Become familiar with the terrain you will travel on.

• Listen to the weather forecast before you leave.

• Always wear a helmet and proper clothing.

• Never ride alone, and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

• Carry emergency supplies and learn survival skills.

For more information about snowmobile safety, visit snowmobile.org.