Tips for snowmachining in Alaska that could save your life

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:31 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Snowmachining is a popular winter activity in Alaska. Whether for fun or just to get you from one place to the next, many Alaskans spend their winter on these off-road vehicles. However, they can be dangerous if used improperly. Earlier this week, a Fairbanks woman died in a snowmachine accident.

Scott Learned is the Fire Chief at the Steese Volunteer Fire Department and said there are things you can do to ensure you stay safe while riding in Alaska.

One of the biggest things you can do is let other people know where you are going and when you should be back. Learned said this way, if something happens and you aren’t back in time, someone will know to check on you. He also suggested to never travel alone if possible. He said that often you will be in a place without cell service and if a machine breaks down, or someone is injured, having another person can mean the ability to go back for help.

Learned also said that having the proper gear is important. He said whenever someone goes snowmachining, they should wear a helmet. Another common way people can get injured or die is not wearing clothing that is appropriate for the weather. He said that if you don’t dress warm enough you can get frostbite or hypothermia.

He advised people to always ride within their limits and skill level saying, “Snowmachines are... a fun thing to ride but you just need to be able to ride within your capabilities and the trail conditions so that hopefully you don’t get yourself into a situation that causes injury.”

Another common way people can get in trouble is going through the ice. He said to always be aware of the thickness of the ice and never to ride in overflow, on thin ice or open water.

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