Seasonal and Recreational Activity Safety

For many of us, the different seasons include a variety of activities such as swimming and boating, sledding and hiking. Hamilton Police would like to educate and remind residents of the importance of safety to help prevent injuries. Please see the list regarding various seasonal topics.

An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is a popular utility and recreational vehicle.  However, it is important when using an ATV that you take appropriate safety precautions to avoid risks associated with this activity.

  • Always keep your feet firmly on the footrests of the ATV
  • Ease of the throttle when entering the corners
  • Shift your body weight into the turn
  • Move forward in the seat and keep steady speed when climbing hills
  • Never ride on paved roads – ATVs are deigned to be operated off-highway
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you’re riding a single-rider ATV, do not allow a passenger to ride with you.
  • If you’re riding an ATV that allows a passenger, do not allow more than one passenger with you.
  • An appropriate helmet – by law, you must wear a helmet that meets the standard of the Highway Traffic Act while operating on premises other than property owned by the vehicle owner. Helmets certified by DOT, SNELL or other manufacturers that meet the standard)
  • Ride an ATV appropriate to your size/age.
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Long Sleeved shirts
  • Pants

The Highway Traffic Act states that a vehicle is "anything drawn, propelled or driven by any type of power including muscular power." A bicycle is a vehicle.

Therefore, cyclists have the same rights and obligations as any other vehicle driver:

  • Stop at all stop signs and red lights
  • Ride on the right side of the road
  • Signal lane changes, stops and turns
  • Ride on the highway, not the sidewalks
  • Use lights when riding at night
  • Have a bell or horn attached to your bicycle
  • Wear a helmet (if under 18 years)
  • Share the road

Hamilton Police Service urges you to follow these safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable ride.

It is absolutely crucial to wear a helmet. A serious head injury may cause loss of cognitive or mental capacity.

All cyclists under the age of eighteen years are required by law to wear a helmet while riding or operating a bicycle.

When putting on a helmet, level it over your forehead and adjust the chin strap to fit snugly and comfortably. It should protect the forehead without slipping.

Helmets should comply with CSA safety standards. The following standards are acceptable:  CPSC, ASTM, ANSI, Snell, BS and the AS although some regulations may be out of date.

As cyclists share the road with motorists, knowledge of traffic rules and regulations is essential to personal safety and well-being.

  • Be sure to obey traffic signs and lights
  • Use hand signals to communicate your intentions to motorists
  • Scan the road behind you. Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing balance
  • Make eye contact with motorists
  • Look out for road hazards
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and time of day
  • Use lights at night

Learn more Cycling Safety tips from Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling

Hamilton Police want to remind you to stay safe when enjoying recreational activities near any body of water. 

Please note, that all parties operating a boat on all waterways in Canada must have The Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card (PCOC) as prescribed in the Canada Shipping Act.

Before heading out on the water, check out these boating safety tips

  • Know the boating laws and regulations
  • Ensure that your body is in good operating condition
  • Keep extra fuel on hand
  • Ensure that you have paddles, a bail bucket, whistles, flares in your vessel
  • Check the weather conditions – consider visibility conditions (fog, darkness, currents)
  • Do not boat alone
  • All parties on board should wear a properly fitted life jacket – the law requires you to have enough life jackets for each person on board.
  • Ensure you have a first aid kit on board
  • Wear appropriate clothing
  • Put on sunscreen
  • Bring a cellular phone in the event of an emergency
  • Do not drive at excessive speeds
  • Do NOT operate a water vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boating while impaired is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Learn more about Boating Safety

Halloween may be a fun holiday for the kids, but for parents, it can be a tricky.  Concerns about safety, whether it’s out in the neighbourhood or back at home with their bags of candy, can darken the day more quickly than a black cat!  But not to worry, if parents and children follow some common sense safety tips, Halloween can be a treat for everyone.

  • Avoid dark coloured costumes.  Halloween costumes should be bright and made of non-flammable material.  Attaching reflective tape or other light coloured material to the costume helps make trick-or-treaters more visible.  For added safety, have your child use a flashlight.
  • Use make-up instead of a mask.  Masks can be hot and uncomfortable, and more importantly they can obstruct a child’s vision.  If you do decide to use a mask, make the eye holes large enough so that vision is not restricted.  Costumes should also be kept short enough to prevent tripping.
  • Remember to be especially careful around Halloween decorations with candles.
  • Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.  Older children should travel together in pairs or groups.
  • Trick or treat only in your own neighbourhood.  Make sure parents know the route being taken.
  • Make certain that children travel on one side of the street and cross only at corners.  Have them use the sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Trick or treating should occur only in the early evening hours.
  • Instruct children to stand in front of the door at the home.  They should not enter a home under any circumstances.  They should also stay away from any homes that are in total darkness.
  • Once the children arrive home, all treats should be inspected by parents before eating. Discard anything that looks homemade, is unwrapped or partially unwrapped.

For many people, the holidays see an increase in shopping and socializing. Hamilton Police suggest the following tips to get you through the holidays safely.

  • Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep your vehicle doors locked and windows closed.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with credit or debit when possible.
  • To discourage purse-snatchers, don’t overburden yourself with packages.
  • Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back trouser pocket.
  • Teach children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if you become separated. They should never go into a parking lot alone.
  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your house or apartment, even for a few minutes. 
  • Don’t display holiday gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway. Store gifts before you go away on a holiday trip.
  • If you go out for the evening, turn on lights and a radio or television so the house or apartment appears to be occupied.
  • If you take a holiday trip away from your home, have some interior lights activated by an automatic timer. Have a neighbour or family member watch your house, shovel new snow, pick up the mail and newspaper and park his or her motor vehicle in your driveway from time to time.
  • Be wary of strangers soliciting for charitable donations. They may attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays. Ask for identification, how donated funds are used, if contributions are tax deductible, etc. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, don’t give.
  • Test your smoke detectors.
  • If you have house guests, advise them of your security precautions and make sure they follow them.

Hunting is a popular activity amongst many Hamilton residents. Hamilton Police want to remind residents of the importance of safety and following the proper protocol for obtaining their hunting licence.

  • Never assume that any firearm you come in contact with is unloaded – always prove your weapon safe.
  • Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Never forget that you are carrying a loaded firearm.  As a hunter, you are responsible for following safe firearm practices.
  • Ensure that you check what’s in front or beyond your target. The number one cause of hunting accidents occurs because people mistake a person for game.  If you are not 100 per cent sure of what you’re shooting at, don’t take the shot.
  • Practice and be comfortable handling your firearm.  This will prevent accidental discharges and stray shots.
  • Practice self-control. If you find that you’re overly excited or anxious, it puts yourself and others at risk. A calm shooter is always more accurate.

To get your resident hunting licence in Ontario, most people need to pass the Ontario Hunter Education Course, including a written exam.

Ontario residents must take the Ontario Hunter Education Course and pass the written exam to:

  • buy their first hunting version Outdoors Card or
  • participate in the Ontario Hunter Apprenticeship Safety Program

You may also need to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.

Skateboarding is a popular sport for many Hamilton residents, particularly youth. Hamilton Police want to remind residents to ensure that they practice proper safety precautions to avoid accidents and injury.

It is easy to lose your balance on a skateboard, especially for beginners. Most injuries that occur happen to people under the age of 15, many of which are beginner skateboarders.

However, experienced skateboarders have accidents too. As the difficult of their tricks increase, so does their risk of falling and getting hurt. It is also important to stay off roadways.

It is important that you wear the proper safety gear to avoid an injury.

Here are some of tips to get you started:

  • Skateboard – Ensure that your skateboard is in good working conditions. Check for cracks, damaged wheels and loose parts before you skate.
  • Helmet – A helmet is a MUST! Get a helmet that is specifically designed for skateboarding.
  • Shoes – Never wear sandals when you skateboard. Invest in a good pair of closed shoes with soles that have a good grip.
  • Knee & elbow Pads – Pads are recommended for beginner and experienced skateboarders. Ensure that your pads have a hard plastic shield on the outside with no cracks. The pads should fit snugly and still allow you to move freely.

It is important to ride on surfaces that are smooth and free of rocks, sticks and other obstacles.

Skate parks are a great place to ride, however ensure that you obey all the rules governing the use of the park.  

To find a skate park near you, visit the City of Hamilton

Snowmobiles are popular forms of winter recreational activity.  Hamilton Police would like to remind you to follow proper safety precautions in order to prevent an accident from occurring.

Riders should wear the proper gear while using a snowmobile. This includes:

  • A proper helmet certified by DOT, SNELL or other manufacturers that meet the standard
  • Proper clothing including under layers which provide a barrier from cold, wind chill, and frostbite, as well as a proper snowmobile suit.
  • Facemasks
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Boots

You should carry a variety of gear with you when snowmobiling to ensure that you are properly prepared for emergencies and changing conditions.

  • First Aid Kit
  • Cellular Phone
  • GPS Navigation System and/or a Compass and Map
  • Throw Rope
  • Ice Picks
  • Waterproof matches with a candle or firestarter
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Blankets
  • Food
  • Water
  • Extra clothing
  • Flares / Strobe
  • Flotation device (if you’re travelling across ice)
  • Always ride with a partner.
  • Ensure that your snowmobile has been checked over and in good functioning condition.
  • Ensure that you have the required permits and insurance to operate the snowmobile.
  • Ensure that your snowmobile is equipped with a tool kit. Most snowmobiles are equipped with a basic tool kit in the snowmobile’s hood or under the seat.
  • Plan your route and inform others of where you are going
  • Stay on approved trails and ride on the right side of the trail
  • Ride at an appropriate posted speed limits (50km/hr on trails unless otherwise posted)
  • Stay alert and keep watch for obstacles
  • If you’re travelling across ice, ensure that you check the ice thickness. If you are unsure, stay off the ice.

Visit the Ministry of Transportation for more information on snowmobile safety.

For many families, summer includes activities surround water – such as boating and swimming. The Hamilton Police would like to remind residents of the importance of water safety to prevent accidents and drowning.

Water Safety for Children

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups for water related accidents and drownings.  In fact, drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for children ages one to four. 

A small child can drown in only a few centimetres of water. The most common places for infant drowning is the bath tub and back yard pool.

If you have a backyard pool, ensure that you have adequate barriers in place surrounding the pool.

Whether it’s by a pool, in a bath tub, at a waterpark or on the beach it is imperative that your children are supervised at all times - if you leave even for a momentary distraction, it can be enough time for a child to drown.

Water Safety For Adults

Water current is an important factor when it comes to water safety. Swimmers can be swept away in an instant and swimming skills alone aren’t always enough to prevent a drowning.

Be cautious about swimming in currents and navigating changes in currents.

Further, many factors for adults in drownings often include alcohol consumption. Don’t consume alcohol before or during water activities.