Canada's often harsh winter season poses a number of unique challenges and perils for its residents. As is true with summer/water safety, adopting the following simple tips can go a long way toward keeping you and members of your family safe year in and year out.
Climate and Clothing:
- Wear the proper clothing in winter months, including hat, gloves, boots and a coat. More than half of your body heat escapes from your head.
- Remember that parka hoods or hats can limit your ability to hear, so pay extra attention near roads
- Always check ice conditions on lakes and rivers before venturing out on them
- Don't slide down snow banks onto roadways. It is safer to use a toboggan hill.
- Assess toboggan hills before using them to ensure they are free from trees, rocks, poles fences and/or picnic tables
- Never hitch a toboggan to a car or snowmobile
- Take ski lessons on your first visit to the slopes
- Be sure to obey all the rules of the hill
- Snow machines or off-road vehicles are not toys. Common sense, proper handling and regular maintenance will result in safe and enjoyable use.
- All motorized snow vehicles (MSVs) and off-road vehicles must be registered.
- A person who drives anywhere, except on land occupied by the vehicle's owner, must carry liability insurance and produce evidence of said insurance if requested.
- Know and obey the rules of the road when operating an MSV. Check municipal by-laws.
- Learn as much as possible about the mechanical operation of a machine before using it.
- Regulation helmets must be worn by drivers, passengers and riders on towed conveyances.
- Never allow children to operate vehicles alone.
- Always obtain consent of private owners before riding on private lands.
- When venturing out on an MSV, always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Never travel alone.
- Be sure to dress warmly. Cover all exposed skin areas to reduce the risk of serious frostbite or freezing. Check frequently for signs of frostbite.
- Always carry extra gasoline, tools and replacement parts for lengthy excursions.
- Never check fuel levels or the battery by the light of a match or cigarette lighter.
- Remember that the 50 km/hr speed limit applies on trails and on highways where car speed limits exceed 50 km/hr.
- Know the ice conditions, thickness and underlying water currents for the areas in which you plan to travel.
- Always watch for covered stumps, fallen trees and overhanging branches.
- Avoid side hills or rough terrain.
- Operating snowmobiles or off-road vehicles while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and illegal. Do not drink and drive.
Snowbanks and Snowballs:
- Many tragic accidents have been caused by building tunnels or forts in snow banks. If trapped inside, you could suffocate or, worse yet, be injured or killed by a snow plough.
- Don't throw snowballs. You could blind someone or give them a concussion if you strike them in the head.
- Road hockey should only be played on dead-end streets, vacant school yards or emply parking lots
- Don't challenge cars when you go after a puck or move your nets. Cars are unable to stop quickly on ice or packed snow.
Breaking Through Ice: Self-Rescue
- Don't panic. The clothing you are wearing will trap air and keep you buoyant.
- Turn towards the direction you came from
- Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface
- Kick your feet and legs vigorously into an swimming position, then try pushing yourself forward on top of the broken ice on your stomach like a seal
- Once you are lying on the ice, don't stand up. Roll away from the break until you are on solid ice.