Having Fun in the Snow: Winter Safety Tips
Winter is the most wonderful time of the year! From skating on frozen ponds, to hot chocolate on snowy nights, there is a lot of fun to be had once the snow starts falling! However, winter fun can quickly turn dangerous – you may be out enjoying a fun winter activity when all of a sudden someone gets hurt. Winter accidents can have devastating impacts that last far beyond when the snow melts, so it is important you learn how to keep yourself and your family safe while having fun this winter.
To make staying safe a little easier, we have outlined how to avoid injury while participating in The Morris Law Group’s top 5 favourite winter activities.
Top 5 Safety Tips for Winter Activities
1) Avoid a Toboggan Accident
If you grew up in Canada, you probably have fun winter memories of tobogganing with your family and friends – and you probably want to continue making these memories with your children! However, in 2021 McMaster Children’s Hospital announced that tobogganing injuries have been increasing.
Tobogganing in the winter can be a lot of fun – but it is also an extremely dangerous winter activity that can lead to devastating injuries, especially injuries to children, including concussions, spinal injuries, and even paralysis. When heading out for a fun day of tobogganing, it is important you take a few precautions to stay safe.
As legal professionals, we recommend you start by checking the laws in your community. In the City of Hamilton, many hills have been marked safe for tobogganing, while others are considered more dangerous. Make sure you use the safe hills compared to those which could be unsafe or dangerous. Other municipalities have created their own by-laws related to tobogganing, so it is important you understand the rules and restrictions in your community.
Toboggan Safety Tips
Once you have found a safe space for your outing, here are some tips to stay safe while outside sledding:
- Never slide down a hill that could put you in the way of oncoming traffic;
- Do not slide down hills with jagged edges, obstacles, or any other apparent dangers;
- Always sled sitting or kneeling and use hand holds (sliding laying down can increase the risk of a neck or back injury); and,
- Wear proper safety equipment, such as a helmet and wear outdoor clothing (such as good boots and materials to protect your skin from frostbite).
Despite taking these precautions, it is still possible to get injured from tobogganing. If you or your child have been hurt in a tobogganing accident, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important you contact a personal injury lawyer to help assess your case and understand your rights.
2) Practice Safe Ice Skating
When we think of winter activities, odds are one of the first things that come to mind is ice skating. Whether outdoors on the lake, on a community ice rink, at your local recreation center, or even in a homemade backyard rink, skating can be a lot of fun and is a great way to get outside during the winter.
However, ice skating can lead to devastating injuries, and if you are on a lake, pond or on private property there may even be an increased danger as the ice may not be properly maintained or safe to use.
Ice Skating Safety Tips
When you decide to go ice skating, there are a few questions to ask yourself to help you identify potential dangers:
- Is the ice fully frozen and safe to skate on?
- Is the ice maintained or is it potentially jagged and a tripping hazard?
- What is the ice capacity? Are there too many people to avoid injury?
- Do I have the proper safety equipment, including helmets and padding?
- Are there children or individuals without skating experience around?
Asking yourself these questions can help you determine the safety of the rink, as well as the caution you may need to exercise to stay safe. While these are not the only questions you should ask, they are a good starting point to help you consider if skating is safe in your given location.
3) Prevent Snowmobile Accidents
Winter is the perfect time to break out the snowmobiles and explore the outdoors; however, unmaintained trails, private property, and dangerous obstacles can impede your fun and cause major injuries.
It is important that you obtain the proper documentation prior to riding your snowmobile on public property.
Ontario Snowmobile Requirements
To drive a snowmobile, the Government of Ontario requires you to carry with you:
- a valid driver’s licence, motorized snow vehicle operator’s licence (MSVOL) or a snowmobile driver's licence from your home province, state or country;
- proof of insurance; and,
- snowmobile registration permit.
In addition, drivers and passengers must wear an approved snowmobile helmet while riding.
Snowmobile Safety Tips
When out riding, it is important to follow all trail signs and stay on maintained paths to ensure you are safe. When on private property, ensure you are following safety precautions and stay alert to potential dangers on your course. Never trespass onto private property and ensure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.
4) Stay Safe on a Winter Hike
Winter is beautiful – the snow glistens, the air is crisp and the landscapes around Southern Ontario are gorgeous – so naturally, you want to get outside! For many, the first thing that will come to your mind is a winter walk.
However, ice, snow, and cold can all cause adverse conditions that can lead to a slip-and-fall or other type of accident that results in personal injury. In addition, fewer daylight hours, trail signs covered in snow, and covered terrain can all increase the dangers and potential for injury during the winter.
Winter Hiking Safety Tips
Make sure you are using safe trails, wear proper winter clothing to protect against the cold, have told someone your route, have a trail map, and have come prepared with water and other materials you may need. In addition, stay aware of ice, snow, and other potential dangers such as fallen tree limbs on your route.
5) Be Prepared for Winter Driving
While it may be fun to take a drive to see the Christmas lights or take the scenic route to your winter activity, arriving safely to your destination in the winter is half the battle. With hard-to-see ice, sudden snowstorms, and the potential for increased vehicle problems, driving in the winter can be hazardous, especially if you are driving to remote locations to participate in winter activities.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
We recommend you always keep a first aid kit, blankets, snacks, and water in your car. Also, before you set out, ensure you have a full tank of gas, windshield wiper fluid, winter tires, good tire pressure, and have checked the weather to ensure you do not encounter any unexpected adverse weather. It may also be a good idea to keep a shovel, ice melt, and winter clothing in your car, just in case.
While you can’t control when a car accident may occur, you can reduce the risk by taking precautions and staying safe. This way you can help ensure your fun day in the snow becomes a good memory, not a tragic one.
For more information about driving safely in the winter, check out our blog post Driving in a Winter Wonderland for additional tips.
Have you been hurt by a winter activity?
Winter accidents can often be caused by negligence on the part of the property owner or other individuals involved in the activity. If you have been hurt in one of these activities, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer, so you understand your legal rights and options.
Contact The Morris Law Group
If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious accident, contact The Morris Law Group for a free no obligation consultation with one of our experienced Hamilton personal injury lawyers. We have been practising personal injury law in Hamilton and the Golden Horseshoe for over 60 years. We ensure that your rights are preserved and that you receive the personal attention you deserve. At our law firm we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you don’t pay until your case settles.
All personal injury firms will work to get you the best settlement, but only at The Morris Law Group will you get the care and support you need at such a difficult time. Contact us today.
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