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Safety Tips to Prevent Brain Injury

With the shorter days, cooler temperatures and wet winter weather comes slick road surfaces, low visibility and dangerous driving conditions. Drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists need to practice extra caution when out on the roads. With the ski season also on our doorstep, skiers and snowboarders need to remind themselves of the inherent safety risks involved in such winter sports.

We thought we’d take a moment to remind you of some very basic safety tips that can help prevent a traumatic brain injury, because too often we see the result of what happens when safety is compromised.  The information presented below should be familiar to most people. It intended as a reminder to take a common sense approach to living safely and keeping your loved ones safe.

Safety Basics for Drivers:image of car accident

  • Set a safe example for your children by always wearing a safety shoulder and lap seat belt.
  • Use car seats or boosters which are CSA approved and appropriate for the size and age of the child.
  • Always decline alcohol when you know you will be driving
  • Always decline rides from anyone who you know or suspect has been drinking alcohol.
  • Speed does kill. Obey posted speed limits.
  • Watch for pedestrians at all times.
  • Make eye contact with pedestrians to ensure that they have seen you.
  • Drive slowly near pedestrians and give them the right of way.
  • Elderly drivers should be encouraged to reduce the amount that they drive, and should not drive in poor weather or at night. Offer to drive them when possible.

It is difficult to judge ourselves and acknowledge when we are no longer able to drive safely. When it is apparent that an elderly driver should hand in his/her license, consider discussing the matter with the driver and his/her family doctor. It is better to stop driving 5 years too early than a second too late.

For more safe driving tips and regulations visit the Transport Canada website.


Safety Basics for Pedestrians:Walk Sign at Cross Walk

  • Use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • If a sidewalk is not available, walk facing oncoming traffic.
  • Cross only at intersections and crosswalks.
  • Never cross the street between parked cars.
  • Check for traffic by looking left, right and left again before crossing a street.
  • Walk only where you are visible to drivers.
  • Always wear reflective clothing at night.
  • Never assume that drivers can see you or know what you are planning to do.

For pedestrian safety tips and statistics on high risk pedestrian accident areas go to the Vancouver Police Department website.

 

Safety Basics for Cyclists:image of cyclist

  • Always come to a full stop at stop signs. Not stopping is illegal under BC’s Motor Vehicle Act, and you can be fined $167.
  • Be visible. Wear brightly coloured clothing so drivers can see you and, if possible, avoid cycling at night.
  • Make eye contact with other road users. Never assume that another cyclist, driver, or pedestrian sees you.
  • Take care when cycling past parked cars to leave enough space for drivers and passengers to open car doors.
  • In traffic, cycle safely and predictably. Signal before turning, and learn the skills needed to control your bike.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the street, and to buses when they are leaving a stop.
  • Do not ride on sidewalks or crosswalks unless signs posted allow you to. Walk your bicycle on a sidewalk or a crosswalk.
  • Maintain your bike in good working order. Equip it with a warning bell and use front and rear lights on your bicycle after dark, as required by law.
  • Helmets must be worn according to Provincial Law, and safety vests or reflective clothing are recommended.
  • Do not wear headphones that cover both ears.
  • Take extra care when it’s wet because it will take longer for your brakes to grip and stop your bike.
  • Ride defensively. Watch out for cars.
  • Children cyclists:
    • Children should be old enough (age 7 or 8 ) to fully understand how to ride safely before they are taught to ride a bicycle.
    • A child should be able to straddle a bike with both feet on the ground. Be sure that the bike is the proper size.
    • A child’s hands should be sufficiently large strong to use the levers of a hand brake. Until then, children should only use bikes equipped with back pedal, or coaster brakes.
    • A child must always wear a properly fitted helmet when cycling even short distances.
    • The helmet should be worn low over the forehead just above the eyebrows. It should sit flat on the head, centered above the ears. Ensure that the helmet stays firmly in place by tightening the chinstrap and adjusting the padding.
    • Children should never ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or motorcycles, even with a helmet.
    • Children should learn about and obey all traffic signals and signage.
    • Practice what you teach to be a good role model for children – Always wear a protective helmet, and obey the rules of the road.

More safety cycling safety tips and regulations available at the City of Vancouver website.


Safety Basics for Skiers and Snowboarders:
Image of snowboarder doing a jump

  • Get fit. You will have more control and enjoy skiing more if you are physically fit.
  • Always wear a properly adjusted helmet.
  • Wear proper equipment and have your bindings adjusted correctly.
  • Keep sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more safe and fun when you can see.
  • Take lessons. The quickest way to become a good skier or snowboarder and prevent injury is to take lessons from a qualified instructor.
  • Begin each run slowly and be aware of the snow conditions. Firmer snow makes skiing hard and fast.
  • Keep aware of skiers and snowboarders above and below you. Keeping injury free requires a mental and physical presence.
  • If you accidentally end up on a run that exceeds your ability, side step to a safer area.
  • If you’re tired, stop.
  • Follow the seven safety rules of the slopes:
  1. Always stay in control.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
  3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
  5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
  7. Know how to use the lifts safely.

For more tips on ski and snowboard safety visit the Canada Safety Council website.

 

Resources:

Safe Driving – Transport Canada
www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/safedrivers-menu-39.htm

Cyclist Safety – City of Vancouver
vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/cycling-safety-tips-and-regulations.aspx

Pedestrian Safety – Vancouver Police Department
vancouver.ca/police/organization/operations/traffic/pedestrian-safety.html

Safety on the Slopes – Canada Safety Council
canadasafetycouncil.org/node/1048

Head Injury Prevention
health.allrefer.com/health/head-injury-prevention.html

“There’s a lot to lose by not wearing a bike helmet”

image of bike commuter wearing helmetWhile reading the paper this past weekend, I came upon an article addressing two issues that are near and dear to my life:  cycling and brain injury.  I commute by bike approximately 14 km each way every day to our offices where I then represent individuals with mild, moderate and severe brain injuries.  Reading this article, in which Mr. Cox described being hit by a street race 25 years ago at the age of 31, really struck home:  “There’s a lot to lose by not wearing a bike helmet.”  Although I have been fortunate enough not to have had any major altercations with vehicles in my cycling career, it is something I think about every day as I put on my helmet and turn on the 4 lights on my bike.  Wearing a helmet is required according to section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act, and for good reason.  Time and time again, I hear about catastrophic injuries to cyclists and think that at least some of them may have been avoided had the rider been properly equipped and wearing a helmet.  As Mr. Cox quotes, and as is sometimes the experience of our clients:

Cyclists who flout the law by not wearing a helmet might lose more than just their lives – they might lose who they are.  They might become so impossible to live with that all they love leave them.

Certainly, if you or a family member is in this situation where a brain injury is affecting every aspect of your life and you require legal assistance, please contact us.  Otherwise, be safe out there and wear your helmet!