Due to the arrival of winter conditions this year, Sheriff Lawrence Stelma reminds snowmobile riders to take extra precautions on the new fallen snow. Because it can take two weeks or more of below-freezing temperatures for the ice on lakes, streams and ponds to freeze thick enough to support a snowmobile, Sheriff Stelma urges riders to stay off the ice right after the new snow has fallen. Further safety tips from Sheriff Stelma include the following: • Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition. • Always wear insulated boots and protective clothing, including a helmet, gloves and eye protection. • Never ride alone. • Avoid, when possible, crossing frozen bodies of water. • Always be alert to avoid fences and low-strung wires. • Never operate your snowmobiles in a single file line when crossing frozen bodies of water. • Never operate your snowmobile on a street or highway. • Always look for depressions in the snow. • Keep headlights and taillights on at all times. • When approaching an intersection, come to a complete stop, raise off the seat and look for traffic. • Always check weather conditions before you depart. • Never operate your snowmobile on railroad tracks. • Never operate your snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol. Snowmobiles must abide by the same regulations as drivers, and Sheriff Stelma will have his deputies out on patrol to make sure Kent County residents stay safe this winter. While Sheriff Stelma hopes that nobody in Kent County will find themselves in such a precarious situation while riding a snowmobile, by heeding the warnings above he knows you can stay alive!