How to Minimize the Risk of Injury Riding an ATV

Riding ATVs can be a rush, whether you’re straddling a Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Can-Am or a quad manufactured by another industry leader. Maybe the potential danger of the power sport is part of the adventure. Based on emergency department reports in the U.S., there were 101,200 ATV injuries warranting emergency care in 2016 alone. Approximately 26% of those clinic visits involved children age 15 and under. Tragically, 337 ATV-related deaths occurred in 2016, as well, which was down from 484 in 2015 and 581 in 2014. Minimizing the risk of injury on an ATV is obviously an important consideration.

Common ATV Injuries
There are several serious non-fatal injuries that occur as a result of an ATV crash or rollover. Some require extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy and some are life-altering. The most serious ATV injuries include the following:
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Spinal cord injuries
• Permanent concussions
• Neurologic injuries
• Fractures
• Neck injuries
• Dislocations
• Abdominal injuries
• Chest injuries

Common ATV Dangers
Understanding the risks on ATVs can lead to taking preventative safety measures. A certain level of skill is required to operate a quad, especially in challenging terrain. It is not unusual for inexperienced riders to flip or roll their quad, resulting in injuries. Riders can be thrown from the ATV or pinned underneath it. ATVs are designed to carry one individual, with rare exception. Riding with a passenger greatly increases the chances of having an accident, since the general stability of the vehicle is affected.

Children may not have sufficient cognitive abilities, physical strength, or fine motor skills to properly operate an ATV, which increases the risk of injury. Teen riders suffer more head injuries and other severe injuries than other age groups.

Tips to Avoid ATV Injuries
Safety should always be a top priority, when preparing to ride ATVs. Serious injuries can often be avoided by taking the following steps:
• Wear an approved helmet that fits properly.
• Wear protective footwear, preferably at least ankle-high.
• Only one person at a time on ATVs. No passengers.
• Do not drive an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• The ATV’s operating manual should be read and understood by the driver.
• Drivers should understand limitations of their quad in association with the terrain.
• Young children should not be allowed to operate an ATV.
• Before operating an ATV, riders should take safety training and gain practical experience.
• Become familiar with local and state regulations associated with riding ATVs.
• On any ATV ride, be sure there is at least one communications device that will work on the trail, in case there is an emergency.

Ready to Ride!
You can get all of the safety equipment and apparel you need at Outdoor Powerhouse. We always have a great inventory of ATVs by top manufacturers, such as Kawasaki, Polaris, Suzuki, Can-Am, and more. Call Outdoor Powerhouse today at 225-791-2277.


Swampy ATV Trails in Louisiana

Louisiana is the perfect place to live in if you love riding all-terrain vehicles. Trails are open to ATVs in every region of the state. In the northwest corner near Shreveport, High Lifter Off-Road Park offers mud-running opportunities, including annual memberships. Bonnet Carre Spillway ATV trails are in the southeast part of the state, and riding there is free of charge. Both offer swampy conditions and miles of trails.

High Lifter Off-Road Park
High Lifter Off-Road Park is a new off-road park, and it has 25 miles of trails on 574 acres. You can go mud-running in four different mud bogs. At this park, mud is the main feature, but there are also trails without muck. Admission is $15 per person, except that children age 6 and under get in free. Annual memberships are available. For an added fee of about $30 per month, members are allowed to leave a camper in a designated part of the park all year around. The area has no sewer, water, or electric hookups, however; future plans include adding connections. Outdoor Powerhouse in Denham Springs, Louisiana, is an authorized dealer of High Lifter Products, which offers unique after-market accessories for ATVs and other off-road vehicles.

Bonnet Carre Spillway
The marshland of Bonnet Carre Spillway encompasses 8,000 acres available to a wide variety of sportsmen, including ATV riders, who can access about 900 acres totally free of charge. The land, which serves as flood control for the Mississippi River, is overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The area has been closed fewer than ten times since its opening in 1937.

Two areas at Bonnet Carre Spillway are for ATVs. Each offers approximately 20 miles of trails on 450 acres. The marshy land can get very muddy in spots, but there’s a bottom. Getting stuck is something to avoid, since there are very few trees suitable for use with a winch to pull a vehicle out of the mud.

Other activities widely enjoyed at the spillway include fishing, hunting, dog training, and crawfishing. There’s also an area marked off for remote control airplanes. New Orleans is only 15 minutes away.

Everywhere In Between
No matter which corner of Louisiana you live in or visit, you aren’t far from a great ATV park. Be sure to visit Outdoor Powerhouse in Denham Springs for all of your ATV needs. We have a 25,000-foot facility packed with everything needed for power sports.

Shifting Gears and Straddling Ruts

Would you like to know the basics of riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV)? It’s definitely different from cruising in your more civilized automobiles, but it’s very popular. ATVs account for more than half of all spark-ignited (SI) recreational vehicles in the US. Once you get a few simple functions figured out, riding an ATV is all about shifting gears and straddling ruts. If you have an automatic ATV, shifting gears is all taken care of, and it gets down to maneuvering the ruts.

On a quad, you have the throttle, which is on the right-hand handlebar. Pushing and releasing the throttle controls your speed.

Most ATVs have a total of three brakes: the parking brake, the foot brake, and the right-hand brake. The parking brake is for when your quad is parked. The right-hand brake controls the front brakes. The foot brake controls the rear wheels, which you will typically use when you need to slow down or stop as you are coming down a hill. The only time you may need to be concerned about flipping as you brake going downhill is if the hill is very steep and you’re traveling at a high speed. In this situation, you could flip forward if you use the right-hand brake.

Shifting Gears
There are usually five gears on an ATV. Shifting should be done smoothly and at the appropriate time. Your engine will last longer if you aren’t revving your engine excessively. Shift to higher gears when the rpm’s are high, not low. Before shifting, release your thumb from the gas and quickly shift up. At that point, your engine should be operating at lower rpm’s. When you shift down, the rpm’s on the engine should be low. The times to shift down are when it feels that the engine is losing power or when you are climbing a hill.

Note about shifting: Higher gears are designed for less power and more speed. Lower gears are designed for less speed and more power. About the five gears:
• 1st is the gear with the most power, and it’s perfect for going up hills.
• 2nd is ideal for slow trail riding.
• 3rd is a gear that’s perfect for speeding up and slowing down.
• 4th is the gear for cruising on a smooth path.
• 5th is the weakest gear, and it is the one to use when racing over mountain trails.

Straddling Ruts
Encountering ruts is very much a part of the experience of driving on ATV trails. They are challenging and dangerous, since maneuvering them can result in tipping your ATV over. Ruts are created by tires in muddy conditions, which makes them very unpredictable. It’s best to shift to a lower gear and travel slowly on ruts, with both wheels on the edges. Stop if it feels that your ATV is going to tip. Travel with care!

Be patient with yourself when you’re learning to ride an ATV. It’s definitely an adventure sport. As soon as you have all the shifting, throttling, braking, and rut-straddling mastered, you can have many hours of bliss totally crushing it.

Employer Safe ATV Practices from the CDC

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) aren’t just for fun. For at least three decades, ATVs have been used in many different workplaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides statistics on ATV fatalities as well as recommended safe practices for employers whose workers use ATVs.

Industries that use ATVs
ATVs are helpful because they can provide transportation in places where larger vehicles can’t be used. They are easy to maneuver because of their low weight and oversized, low-pressure tires. The following are some of the many workplaces and industries in which ATVs are frequently used:
• Mineral and oil exploration
• Ranching
• Farming
• Land management
• Land surveying
• Law enforcement
• Wild land fire control
• Emergency medical response
• Construction operations
• Border patrol and security
• Forestry activities

On-the-job ATV fatalities
The number of ATV fatalities in the workplace has steadily increased over the years. In 1992, there were 11 ATV-related deaths. By 2007, there were 41 such deaths that occurred on the job. The majority of the fatal accidents occurred in agriculture production, at 61%. More than half of the deadly crashes occurred on farms, and about 20% happened on highways. Rolls and overturns were involved in half of the deadly incidents. A total of 300 workplace deaths occurred that were related to ATVs between 1992 and 2007. Research on these tragic incidents reveals that ATV operators more than 64 years old are at an increased risk of injury for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may have visual and hearing limitations and decreased muscle range that affects reaction time, balance, and mobility.

Employer tips for ATV workplace safety
Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace environment. They are also supposed to make sure their employees have the proper training and skillset to operate machinery of any kind. Appropriate safety equipment is also supposed to be provided to workers. The following are safe practices that the CDC recommends for employers:
• Provide eye protection and helmets for workers using ATVs.
• Encourage workers to wear sturdy boots, gloves, pants, and long shirts when operating ATVs.
• Identify possibly hazards–such as trenches, guy wires, and excavations–that may be present in workplace settings. Then eliminate them when possible, or mark them so that workers can easily see and avoid the hazards.
• Provide workers with access to hands-on ATV Safety training by a qualified instructor.

ATVs will probably continue to grow in usefulness, as the many practical uses of quads are recognized. Whether riding an ATV for pure fun or for work, safety should always be the top consideration.

Indoor and Outdoor Storage for ATVs

All-terrain vehicles are undeniably sturdy, but they need to be covered when not in use. Otherwise, deterioration will occur more quickly. ATVs are too expensive to leave outside to suffer the harsh effects of the weather. There’s no doubt about it: ATVs need to be covered in storage, whether outdoors or indoors.

Damage caused by the elements
It makes no sense to leave any kind of expensive toy outside to suffer exposure to the elements, and that definitely includes ATVs. The tires are subject to being damaged from extended exposure to the sun. Rain and humidity in general can cause components of an ATV to rust. The water gets everywhere, potentially creating hidden damage. The following are some of the effects of rust and water exposure:
• Weakens metal
• Some components experience reduced functionality
• If there is water down inside the ATV and it freezes, parts could expand and contract, causing damage. This freeze-thaw action has caused entire mountains to collapse, and it can certainly cause damage to a quad, as well.

ATV indoor storage
It’s best if you can park your ATV within a secure environment, similar to when pet owners bring their dogs and cats in the house anytime the weather is nasty outside. The following are some of the possibilities for indoor storage options:
• The garage is most obvious. There’s not always room for an ATV however, making it necessary to find other options.
• Shed storage is possible, though the door may need to be modified to get the ATV inside.
• A barn can be perfect for ATV storage, if there’s some available space. Just be careful not to drive over the proverbial pitchfork used to move haystacks.
• Self-storage facilities aren’t just for the junk that no longer fits in the attic. They can also be used for ATV storage, with the added benefit of 24-hour security.
• Storage containers are becoming more and more common, with the typical size around 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide and different lengths.

Outdoor storage for quads
The second best option for storing your ATV when it’s not in use is with a covering of some kind overhead. The following are tremendous improvements over no protection at all:
• A lean-to, such as eaves extensions, can provide some helpful protection.
• A carport is a great alternative to indoor storage.
• If you have a wide porch, you could maybe build some ramps and park your ATV there.
• If there is a large area of overhang of a deck or roof, it could work as ATV storage.

If you’re like most ATV owners, you get as much pleasure out of caring for your quad as you do riding it. ATVs take a beating with the rough riding done on off-road trails, and parking them outside can create accelerated deterioration. You can enjoy your favorite hobby a lot longer at less expense if you keep your quad covered whenever it’s not in use.

Why Check the Weather Before Off-Road Riding?

You’ve waited all week for an off-road getaway and don’t want anything to hold you back. But it’s really a good idea to check weather forecasts before leaving. It can be very uncomfortable and downright dangerous to get caught in a rainstorm. If you’ve never considered the importance of being ready for a wet ride, be sure and see the following warnings and tips.

Effects of precipitation on off-road trails
The recent spate of catastrophic weather events notwithstanding, it can be easy to forget how quickly rainfall can create life-threatening situations. Of course, not all rainfall creates danger on off-road trails. But even a gentle downpour can cause you to get soggy and feel miserable. You might even develop a case of athletes’ foot because you wore wet socks too long. The following are various rain-related problems that can occur on off-road trails:
• Sprinkles and drizzling rain are rarely worrisome on off-road trails.
• Sudden bursts of heavy showers that pass over quickly might leave you soaked, but the trail may not be too badly affected.
• If a lingering downpour comes along while you’re riding your quad, it’s very likely you will encounter slick conditions as you make your way back to the starting point. You may need to use your winch, if the mud gets too thick in various spots.
• If it comes a full-blown gully washer, creeks , streams, and rivers can pose a genuine threat to anyone caught deep in an off-road trail system. Checking the weather before leaving your house is mostly about avoiding this kind of nasty situation, plus the one immediately below.
• Lightening is dangerous. You definitely don’t want to get caught in the middle of nature when a lightning storm comes along. Some years back in Utah, an ATV trail worker sheltered underneath a tree during a rain storm. Tragically, he was struck and killed by lightning.

Tips for driving through wet conditions
If you’ve checked the weather and discovered that a rain storm is likely, study the map of the area you’re riding, if possible. Look for potential shelters you could access, as needed, including buildings, parks, bridge underpasses, and rock overhangs. Be aware that slot canyons are prone to flooding, and these areas should be avoided in rain storms. Also, remember that streams and creeks that are usually easy to cross can suddenly become deep, swift, and dangerous. Never drive through water when you can’t see the bottom. Also, if water appears to be flowing at a rapid pace, avoid the area. When you must cross through, keep your tires headed downstream and work with, not against, the current.

Enjoy riding on your ATV every chance you get! Just don’t forget to consult the local weather forecaster before you head out. It could end up being an important detail.

ATV Maintenance Tips

ATVs have something very unique about them. Although just about any complex item you may buy comes with a manufacturer’s handbook, it is seldom essential to actually read the manual. ATV owners, on the other hand, should read the accompanying manual from cover to cover. Proper maintenance and safe operation are essential considerations, and no one knows better than the manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles how to achieve both. There are some helpful tips, however, that are not in the manual, including a few that follow.

Protect Plastics
Getting your ATV dirty on off-road trails is as satisfying as keeping your ATV in pristine shape, as much as possible. Riding ATVs is an adventure sport, which can get rough and messy. The plastics tend to be the quickest parts of the machine to show unsightly wear and tear. Replacing the pieces can be costly. Here’s a tip your manufacturer won’t tell you because it could mean you don’t have to purchase as many replacement parts. Install a graphic kit while your machine is still shiny new. If possible, cover high-rub areas with clear vinyl. This will keep your quad looking sharp a lot longer. 12-mil vinyl is available at sign shops and from graphics/decal companies.

Protect Electronics
Your engine and various parts of your ATV can really take a beating. Everything can get extremely wet, as well. You can make your maintenance efforts easier by taking steps to protect electrical components from damage caused by water. Dielectric grease applied liberally to all electrical connections all over your ATV can repel water and keep it from seeping in and causing shorts in the electrical systems.

Tighten Lug Nuts
ATV safety largely depends upon all the parts of your quad being securely attached, but the lug nuts are often dangerously loose, including on a new ATV. During shipment, usually in a crate that’s tightly packed, it’s tough to predict precisely what is going to happen. Apparently, lug nuts often come loose in transit. Aluminum wheels are particularly susceptible to loose nuts. This is a tip gained through experience as an ATV enthusiast. A common experience on ATV trails is for a rider’s wheels to come off.

There is no doubt about it; Learning from quad riders can be as important as reading the manufacturer’s manual. It’s fair to say that both are essential.