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Winter safety in the news

By Lauren Smith

Unlike Elsa, the cold does bother me. Photo: marcofolio.net

Unlike Elsa, the cold does bother me. Photo: marcofolio.net

January is usually my least favourite month. It’s smack dab in the middle of the winter. It’s cold. It’s barren. It’s just miserable.

But, this is my sixth Albertan winter and I’ve learned there are some fun ways to pass time and get through this isolating month. However, those activities involve some important safety factors to avoid injuries. So it’s no surprise winter safety has been making the headlines this month.

From the backcountry to the city, here’s a recap of what to keep in mind to stay safe this winter:

Avalanche season

Last year there were 15 deaths from avalanches (six in the Alberta Rockies and eight in BC’s Columbia Mountains)—that’s 25 per cent above the previous 10-year average.

We’re already in the midst of avalanche season, so before you strap on your ski/snowboard boots, make sure you check out Avalanche Canada to see if the mountain you’re heading to is safe, especially if you plan on hitting up the backcountry.

Dangers overhead

In addition to watching where you walk on the icy sidewalks this winter, keep an eye out for ice overhead.

With the warmer temperatures we’ve been having this week comes an increased risk for falling ice. Pay particular attention around the edges of buildings.

Road safety

With all the ice and snow that January brings, obeying the rules of the road is vital. In 2012, there were 70 deaths and almost 8,000 injuries from collisions at intersections in Alberta. The RCMP is urging drivers and pedestrians to be aware and observant.

  • Drivers – Slow down as you approach intersections and ensure you come to a complete stop..
  • Pedestrians – Follow traffic lights and avoid texting or wearing headphones when crossing the street.

Safe riders

Snowmobiling is a fun pastime to get through our never-ending winters. But before heading out, stay safe by wearing the proper equipment and planning ahead. Check to see if you’ll have cell service before hitting up any remote areas. It’s also a good idea to leave an itinerary behind so someone knows where you’re headed.

STARS, Alberta’s helicopter transport team, responded to 20 snowmobile calls last year from enthusiasts who were injured and stranded. The Alberta Snowmobile Association is taking some precautions this winter by travelling around the province to mark off any dangerous areas to alert snowmobilers of risks.

Have any safety-related news stories grabbed your attention recently? Leave us a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB!

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