Snowmachine Safety – OPP reminds riders that, “No Ice is Safe Ice”

February 07, 2023, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

The OPP has issued several warnings this year in response to the deaths of riders in the province. Although many riders have been anxious to get out this season the weather in most of the province has been highly unpredictable leaving much of the ice-covered bodies of water unsafe. 

Ice Is Dangerous

As always, extreme caution should be used when riding on the water. With the lack of long stretches of cold and unseasonably warm December and January the February ice remains questionable. The lack of a strectch of extreme cold combined with heacy snow on many lakes before the freezeup means the ice is not storng or safe in many places.

Many of the province's trails remain closed due to a lack of snow and unsafe ice conditions. As a result, some riders are driving on waterways. There have been fatalities on Six Mile Lake and in Seguin Township when riders and their sled went through the ice.

Are you riding on ice?

The OPP and safety advocates all say that “No ice is safe ice” and that ice should always be approached with extreme caution. Knowing it is at a safe thickness, and having the appropriate self-rescue gear is imperative. If you see someone go through the ice the first thing you should do is call emergency services. Be very cautious about heading out on the ice yourself to perform the rescue. If you do decide to go out then be prepared with flotation devices and a rope.

Safety tips for riding/driving on ice:

  1. Remember, no ice is safe ice Check the trail reports and the thickness of the ice before driving a snowmobile on it.
  2. Avoid travelling on unfamiliar bodies of water.
  3. Avoid travelling on ice at night or in areas of poor visibility.
  4. Avoid travelling on ice that has cracks, is discoloured or has standing water on it.
  5. Wear a flotation suit and have ice claws ready to use on your body
  6. If the snowmobile breaks through the ice, stay calm, try to get off the snowmobile and use the ice claws and flotation device, if available, to help you get out of the water

Snowmachine Safety Tips:

  1. Take a snowmobile safety course and learn the basics of snowmobile operation.
  2. Always wear a helmet and appropriate clothing for weather conditions.
  3. Pre-check the snowmobile before riding to make sure it is in good working condition.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings, including other riders and obstacles on the trail.
  5. Keep a safe speed and avoid excessive speed in crowded or unfamiliar areas.
  6. Avoid riding on thin ice or in hazardous conditions.
  7. Keep a safe distance from other riders and avoid tailgating.
  8. Use hand signals to communicate with other riders when necessary.
  9. Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  10. Always have a basic first-aid kit and a map of the area you are riding in.
  11. Be very cautious when crossing roadways.
  12. Carry your mobile phone and a SPOT device if you are riding in remote areas or areas with no service.

What Can Make Riding Dangerous?

  1. High speeds: Snowmobiles can reach high speeds, which can lead to loss of control and accidents.
  2. Terrain hazards: Snowmobile riders are exposed to various terrain hazards such as rocks, trees, and ditches.
  3. Cold weather: Snowmobiling in cold weather can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold-related health issues.
  4. Thin ice: Snowmobile riders can fall through thin ice into freezing water, which can be life-threatening.
  5. Collisions: Snowmobile riders can collide with other snowmobiles, vehicles, or obstacles on the trail.
  6. Alcohol and drug use: Snowmobile riders who operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are at increased risk of accidents.
  7. Lack of experience: Novice riders who lack experience with snowmobiling can make mistakes that increase their risk of accidents.
  8. Mechanical failure: Snowmobiles can experience mechanical failure, which can lead to accidents.
  9. Weather conditions: Snowmobiling in adverse weather conditions such as heavy snow, high winds, and blizzards can make the sport more dangerous.
  10. Wildlife: Snowmobile riders may encounter wildlife on the trail, which can be dangerous for both the rider and the animal.

What should you do if you are injured in a crash

Remember that you must have valid insurance and a licence if you are driving on public property, trails and roads. If you or a loved one are injured or killed in a snowmachine crash, you should contact one of our highly experienced personal injury lawyers immediately. During your free initial consultation, you’ll learn how we can help you secure your future. Don’t face your situation alone. Call us 519.742.7774 or fill out our online contact form.


Posted under Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injury, Personal Injury, Snow Mobiles

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About Deutschmann Law

Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us at 1-519-742-7774.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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