ATV and Snowmobile Safety & Survival

This past winter and spring has seen a rash of ATV and Snowmobile fatalities in Ontario, including a recent ATV death in North Frontenac whereby the causation was deemed alcohol related. That day, the OPP laid numerous charges for failure to wear a helmet etc. We saw a spike in Snowmobile drownings across the province this past year. At my property (Marble Lake Lodge), I regularly observe ATV’ers and kids under 10 years old, riding without helmets, intoxicated, and without plates or insurance. Same for sledders, even while the OFSC’s Snowmobile trails were closed due to unsafe trail and ice conditions, we observed numerous trail riders breaking the law and trespassing on closed trails. Last summer, with a tornado warning issued by Environment Canada one afternoon, we observed boaters out on the lake, and with open bottles of Coors Lite.
At the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show (had the OPP SAR Unit Seargent co-present with us), and at the ATV Power sports Show, my company (WSC SURVIVAL SCHOOL INC.) presents seminars on Survival Safety‎. Some valuable tips that could save your life, for ATVing/Snowmobiling/Boating, include the following:
don’t consume alcohol or drugs!

  • have excellent communications equipment on your personal, eg tracking device (SPOT, IN-REACH), Cell Phone Amplifier-Booster etc)
  • obtain up to date weather reports from Environment Canada, Weather Network, AccuWeather,
  • ATVers should wear proper safety gear, including a certified helmet, long pants, proper footwear, and abide by posted speed limits
  • Sledders should know your ice safety, ice thickness eg there’s no such thing as safe ice, I like a minimum of 10+ inches for sledding‎, and wear flotation + ice picks and rescue rope, and abide by posted trail speed limits
  • wear Transport Canada approved flotation at all times when boating, and have at minimum, a baler, 50 feet of buoyant rope (throw bags are the best), and have a hypothermia kit handy (wool blankets, woolen clothing, camp stove/pot, high energy trail snacks etc)

For any outdoor activity, you should carry a Survival and Safety Kit, that is based on the rule of 3’s: you can survive for 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours if you’re hypothermic, 3 days without water, 3 week without food.  Survival gear should include something for shelter, fire, water, food, first aid and navigation, plus communications.


Many accidents and fatalities are caused by failure to be prepared, and failure to obey the law. Search and rescue costs the taxpayers, and risks the lives of the searchers and first responders. Regarding that recent FYI ATV fatality, I would not have wanted to be the attending police officers and paramedics, nor the individual that had to knock on the door of the next of kin to advise them that a loved one was deceased, and they needed to plan for a funeral.
To the majority of folks who go out and safely enjoy the great outdoors, keep doing that. To the others, smarten up! Before it’s to late. Remember, you are biodegradable.

David Arama, WSC Survival School Inc.
New Book Published now available on Amazon
“501 Survival Skills that could save your life”