Like most people, you use your vehicles for different purposes. There are those for utility…and those for fun. When you’re talking snowmobiles, jet skis, four-wheelers, or boats, there are a few things to consider. From insuring a recreational vehicle to using it safely, find out what you need to know to make the most of your vehicle.
Gear: First thing’s first: when you’re out on a snowmobile, you know it’s going to be cold. And it’s going to feel colder when you’re moving at accelerated speeds. The first snowmobile safety tip is to have appropriate clothing. And that means layers, preferably not cotton, which can get wet and freeze, as opposed to the synthetics that are made to wick moisture away from your skin. A snowmobile suit will help protect you from cold and frostbite, and good winter boots are essential to keeping your feet warm and dry. As with many types of recreational vehicles, headgear should be warn at all times to protect you from serious head injuries in the event of a crash, and eye protection (if your helmet lacks a visor) can be critical when dealing with debris or eyes that water from the wind and cold.
Safety Skills: Knowing your standard hand signals is important, as they’re an easy way to communicate with other snowmobile riders. Always obey trail signs, and when riding in a group, always ride single file. Keep at least three seconds’ worth of distance between you and the rider in front of you, in the event of a sudden stop. Only carry passengers on snowmobiles that are equipped for them (they will have an extra or longer seat behind the driver and rear handgrips for the passenger). To ride safely, passengers will need to keep their feet flat on the running boards, hold firmly on to the handgrips, and lean with the driver as you go into turns.
Jet Ski Safety
Gear: Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard classifies jet skis as a “Class A” Inboard Boat (a boat under 16 feet long)? That means that the same rules apply (which vary by state). Your personal gear should include a life vest (including one for every passenger), and you will need a cord or lanyard that will keep the key to the ignition secured to your wrist. That way, if you fall off, the engine will not continue to run.
Safety Skills: Jet skis can take a long time to stop at full speed, so always be aware of other water vehicles and swimmers. It’s dangerous, and in many states illegal, to follow too closely behind a boat, cut off another vessel, or jump a wake within 100 feet of another watercraft.
Gear: A helmet is non-negotiable when operating this type of recreational vehicle; you’re driving an open vehicle at accelerated speeds, and the risk for head injuries is just too great. Goggle can protect your eyes from debris (if your helmet lacks a visor), and long pants will protect your legs from being whipped by foliage and long grass. Boots that go over your ankles and gloves are also important for a safe ride.
Safety Skills: Never operate your ATV on highways, streets, or paved roads, except to cross at safe, designated areas. Check tires, brakes, and steering regularly. Ride an ATV that’s right for your age, and if it’s a single-rider vehicle, never take on additional passengers.
Gear: A life jacket of appropriate size for everyone on board is a necessity. The U.S. Coast Guard also lists required safety equipment that includes oars, a bailing bucket, whistle or bell, fire extinguisher, visual distress signals, and an anchor. Safety equipment guidelines vary by state, so be sure to check your state boating laws and requirements before you set sail!
Safety Skills: Learn your manners when using the boat ramp; you’ll want to use the parking lot to load the boat, and use the temporary dock to bring your passengers aboard. These are often busy spots, so be quick and courteous to fellow boaters. Always slow down if another boat is passing you, and never follow a boat inside its wake. Be aware of swimmers; they have the right of way. You must also be willing to assist other boaters if they’re in trouble.
Gear: Helmets, always. Notice a trend? Also, you will want clothing that protects you from cold, debris, and any potential spills. Reinforced jackets or those made of leather are a good choice. Forgo tennis shoes or sandals in favor of sturdy over-the-ankle boots; you will also want eye protection of some kind, either from your helmet’s visor or goggles.
Safety Skills: When you own a motorcycle, you have to drive defensively. Never assume that other vehicles can see you. As with any vehicle, you’ll want to avoid sudden swerves or stops. Watch the road surface for hazards or changing weather conditions.
Insuring Your Recreational Vehicle
Once you decide on a new toy, you’ll also have to decide how to protect both your passengers and your new investment in the event that the unexpected happens. That’s where recreational vehicle insurance comes in. Whether it’s a sport or a fun weekend activity with your family, your Farm Bureau agent can help ensure that you can continue to protect what matters most, so you can just enjoy the ride.