Tag Archive for: safety


So I Guess Your Kid Doesn’t Wear a Seat Belt Either?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I get very confused when I see children riding bikes without helmets.  Over the last many years the safety benefits of a helmet for biking, skiing, skateboarding, ice skating (and many other sports) has been well studied.  Research shows that helmets can be extremely effective in preventing head injuries and ¾ of all cycling fatalities are the result of head trauma.  You don’t even have to hit a car or tree to sustain a head injury – the ground or even your handlebars are often enough.

The laws in Ontario are clear:  since October 1, 1995 anyone under the age of 18 is required to ride a helmet on a road or sidewalk (  Based on an increasing number of adult cycling deaths by head injury, it is likely that this law will soon be extended to adults as it is in other provinces.

So, considering the laws and the well-publicized risks, why are children (including young children) still seen riding bikes without helmets?

As adults, I recognize that we were not raised to wear helmets.  Adopting this practice has been difficult as we find it unnatural, maybe uncomfortable, and probably uncool.  However, most of us likely wear seat belts when in a vehicle.  Why?  BECAUSE WE WERE RAISED THAT WAY.  Seat belt laws in Ontario were passed in 1976 and so many of us were raised in the era of this as mandatory.  Many of us probably don’t even have to think about our seat belt anymore as it is part of our regular “get-in-the-car” routine and we feel naked and exposed without it.  We need to apply the same concept of “normal” to our children regarding helmets. 

There are two main reasons why children need to wear helmets. 

1. They are safe and have been shown to save lives and reduce disability.


As a parent, by not requiring that your child wear a helmet on their bike you are not only putting them at risk, but are also teaching them that laws don’t matter.  And I am not talking about the diligent parents whose children leave the house with a helmet on, to later have this on their handlebars or undone on their head.   I am mostly talking about the young kids in my neighbourhood who are out on their bikes without helmets, often under the supervision of their parents, and are thus not being taught that helmets are law, mandatory, and safe.

I am going to hazard a guess that no parent would put their child in a car without a seat belt.  Heck, child seats are also law and until a certain age, these are five-point and offer more protection than the adult restraint.  So, for the same reasons you put your child in a seat belt (protection and law) you need to ensure they are wearing a helmet for biking (skating, skiing, skateboarding).  And lead by example – get a helmet for yourself and model the appropriate behavior.  And be firm: no helmet should equal no bike.  No discussion.


Previously posted June 2016


Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.


Kick off Cottage Season Safely

The Victoria Day long weekend in Canada is known as the kick off to summer and the official beginning of cottage season.  Whether you own, rent or visit friends and family with cottages make sure you do so safely, as cottages have dangers you may not need to think of at home.  Make yourself familiar with some these safety tips care of the Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations (FOCA) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). 

Heading to the cottage this long weekend? IBC and FOCA partner up to offer Top 10 Tips



Sparking Change in the Wake of Tragedy – ‘Buckle up for The Broncos’

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

As a kid in the 80’s I remember seeing a newspaper article about a girl that was struck by a car after exiting a school bus.  There was a picture of the girl on the ground being attended to by emergency personnel.  It was a disturbing image and I was about her age.  After that, it seemed that school buses started to have stop signs and flashing lights, and huge fines were imposed for passing a school bus when it stopped to let children on or off.  Whether these two events are directly related or not, it is true that laws tend to change when something horrible happens and people are hurt or killed.

In April of this year, tragedy struck Saskatchewan as the Humboldt Bronco’s Junior hockey team bus was in a collision with a transport truck, killing 16 people on board and seriously injuring 13 others.  Those killed and injured were teenagers, coaches, and trainers.  Could any good come of this senseless loss of life and talent?  Maybe, as those involved are asking people to #buckleupforthebroncos by encouraging the use of seat belts on tour buses if these are present. 

Transport Canada is already responding and by 2020, all newly built transport buses will be required to have seatbelts.

So, what are the current laws in Canada for this?  Well, seatbelt use falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial and territorial governments and in most provinces the law states that seatbelts must be worn if they are provided, but of course, most motor coaches are not required to be equipped with belts, so they are not always available to be worn.  That will change in 2020.

Working in the field of auto insurance where my clients are people injured in car accidents, I can state clearly that seatbelts save lives.  Bus accidents are rare but are catastrophic when they happen.  These new laws could save many lives and hopefully will reduce the significance or impact of bus-accident-related injuries.

But all of this got me thinking…my daughter is a varsity athlete for a prominent University.  I asked her if the coach bus that transports them to games and tournaments has belts.  Her answer was “no, they do not”.  I suspect this means that most University, College or Sports teams buses don’t as well, so change is necessary and if these buses can’t be retrofitted to include belts, they need to be replaced.   I too am in the sports arena as the assistant coach of a sports team and our club also travels by coach bus.  I have asked our travel coordinators to make sure our tour operators provide buses with belts, and if they don’t, to find another vendor.  Hopefully, that can help promote change — one team at a time.

We all need to buckle-up and if belts exist, use them.  Even if you don’t feel the need to wear a belt, in the event of an impact if you are unsecured you would be tossed around the inside of the vehicle, threatening the security of others.  Secure yourself, secure your belongings, and secure your passengers.  There is no logical reason not to.


Swimming Safety: Rules for Pools

In celebration of summer, I wanted to re-share this infographic on pool safety. These helpful tips and tools are good things to review and consider, ensuring you, your friends and loved ones are safe and enjoy some fun in the sun this summer!  Remember, when it comes to children, nothing is safer than diligent and attentive supervision.


Previously posted July 2017

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.


How to Have a Safe Halloween

Tuesday is Halloween, a night when children dressed monsters, witches, superheroes and more hit the streets to Trick or Treat.  While Halloween can be a fun night for both kids and adults, there are many dangers associated with it.  Learn some valuable Halloween safety tips in the following from Safe Kids Worldwide to ensure your little ghosts and goblins have a fun and safe Halloween night!

Safe Kids Worldwide:  Halloween Safety Tips


Fireworks Safety

Celebrating summer with fireworks is something many of us do.  Fireworks are exciting to watch, but are very dangerous and must be used properly.  Natural Resources Canada has created a fireworks safety video with purchasing, storage, usage and disposal tips. Check it out to make sure you and your family enjoy a sensational and safe fireworks display.

Natural Resources Canada:  Fireworks Safety Video


Summer Safety for Pets

We have posted previous on our blog about Summer Health Hazards for you and your family, but what about Fido?  Summer can be a wonderful time for pets, but it’s important to think about their safety during the warm weather months.  The following from Health Magazine provides some summer safety tips for dogs.  Check it out to be sure to protect your family pets.

Health Magazine:    5 Summer Safety Tips Every Dog Owner Should Know

Also remember that it is not safe, and not legal, to leave a pet in the car unattended.  Learn more about the dangers and what to do if you see a dog in distress from the No Hot Pets campaign.


Pedestrian Safety

In cities across Ontario pedestrian deaths are on the rise, and statistics are showing the elderly are affected most.  A report from the Ontario Coroner in 2012 found that those older than 65 accounted for 36% of pedestrian deaths in Ontario, while the population of those age 65 and older is only 13%.  This is an alarming statistic.  Many blame distracted driving, the prevalence of larger vehicles and city design for this increase.  Whatever the cause, something must be done.  Do you think the new traffic laws under the “Making Ontario Roads Safer Act” can make a difference?

Metro News:  Elderly pedestrian deaths on the rise in Toronto


Practice Safe Shovelling

Shovelling snow is not only a requirement (based on your municipality) and a way to mitigate liability, but it ensures your safety and that of others.  Shovelling can be strenuous work, therefore it’s important to use the proper tools and techniques to reduce the risk of injury.  The following from Toronto Paramedic Services provides you with some great information on how to shovel safely.

Toronto Paramedic Services:  Snow Shovelling