Over the last few weeks there have been multiple fatal snowmobile accidents in Montana and Wyoming.

KGVO News spoke to Kris Doubek, parts manager at Gull Boats and RV, and asked about snowmobile safety.

“There’s a lot of snow in the high country and the machines have a lot of power and can take you up into places that you don’t normally see,” said Doubek. “And..it’s a lot of fun. As for the machine itself, it’s got an engine, a couple of skis on the front and a long track which makes a big footprint. You grab the throttle and it can take you places where you can’t go normally in the deep snow up in the high country.”

Douibek said safety starts with the right apparel.

“Warmth is key,” he said. “Usually, you start with something that’s waterproof and windproof like a Goretex suit, pants, bibs and jacket. Always have goggles and a helmet, gloves and a backpack with safety equipment just in case you have to stay out all night.”

Doubek said the main concern is avalanches, and special equipment is key to survival.

“Typically, your three basic requirements for avalanche safety are  an avalanche beacon, a transceiver that either picks up or sends your location, a shovel and a probe.”

Several of the news reports indicated that the fatalities were caused when the rider struck a tree. Daubek said maintaining control of the sled at all times is imperative.

“Every now and then, maybe you lose a little control, or you’re trying to go somewhere you shouldn’t,” he said. “As far as running into trees, that’s maybe a rider making a poor decision. It’s hard to control that, it’s a matter of each rider taking care of himself.”

Doubek said guided snowmobile trips are much safer, especially for novice riders.

“If you’re going snowmobiling, always pay attention to your avalanche report and look out for yourself and your friends, and if you don’t trust the people you’re riding with, maybe think twice before heading out. Just use your head and be safe.”

Gull Boats and RV and other outdoor recreation retailers offer an avalanche rescue class at the beginning of each season.

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