Winter Safety

Winter Safety, Travel Planning and Snowmobiling Tips

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office strives to bring current information regarding prevention topics to its communities. Please use these prevention tips to promote safety to the citizens of your community. Promote safe driving techniques and ways to plan for travel under a variety of weather conditions.

Topics of the Month January 2006

  • Winter Safety
  • Travel Planning
  • Snowmobiling

Winter Survival Kits for Your Vehicle

A recipe for safety when traveling by vehicle - take a three-pound coffee can and fill it with candle stubs and matches (which can be used to melt snow for additional drinking water).

  • One metal cup
  • Red bandanna and a plastic whistle (to alert rescuers to your location)
  • Pencil and paper, and change for phone calls
  • First aid kit including any essential medications
  • Plastic flashlight with spare batteries
  • Two large plastic garbage bags, safety pins, (bags are for insulation for feet, safety pins will keep the bags together)
  • Bottled water and snack food for energy, such as candy bars
Some other items that you should carry include: an extra set of dry clothing, a snowmobile suit, gloves or mittens, winter boots, blankets and/or sleeping bag, jumper cables, a basic toolbox, a shovel, a bag of sand or other grit for traction, tow cables or chain, road flares and reflectors. A completely charged cell phone is also a bonus if you run into car troubles.

Whenever traveling in the winter, call ahead to your destination and convey when you intend to leave, what travel route you will take and your expected time of arrival. If you are stranded, never leave your vehicle. Your chances of survival greatly increase if you stay with your vehicle.

Winter Ice Safety

With winter weather, changing temperatures and the holidays approaching, it is helpful to remind parents, children and sportsmen to be careful before venturing out onto frozen lakes and ponds. Ice is not yet safe to walk on and even "safe ice" can change quickly with rising temperature and current. Be especially careful before driving any vehicle, 4-wheeler or snowmobile onto frozen rivers or lakes. Make sure to wear a warm hat to help retain body warmth. Warn children to stay away from open water and ice-covered ponds or streams.

  • 65% of all ice drownings are vehicle related.
  • Several children die in Minnesota every year in thin ice-related incidents.
  • Hypothermia and frostbite can become life or limb threatening in a few minutes.
Safety Steps:
  • Never walk on ice less than 4 inches thick.
  • Never snowmobile on ice less than 5 inches thick.
  • Never drive a vehicle on ice less than 8 inches of new, clear ice.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages when operating a snowmobile.
  • Take a snowmobile course offered by the Department of Natural Resources.


Snowmobiling is a $1 billion industry in Minnesota and many people die or are injured each year as the result of snowmobile crashes. Operator error is the key cause of these crashes.

Contributing factors to these crashes include, but are not limited to excessive speed, overdriving headlights at night, unfamiliarity with snowmobile operation, not familiar with terrain, and alcohol/drug consumption.
  • Learn how to use your snowmobile safely. If you need more safety information, contact your local DNR or law enforcement for a class schedule or brochures.
  • Make sure that your snowmobile is in proper working order.
  • Obey the speed limits on snowmobile trails - in Minnesota it is 50 miles per hour if it is not posted.
Make sure to always wear a helmet! Check out the MNCPA website for other resources