Healthy Living in the North

Gear up for winter

Winter forest

Where do you most like to gear up for the winter? Tell us on our Facebook Page for yuor chance to win a ski/winter sport helmet!

Have you set any goals for the New Year yet? How about starting the year off with making a commitment to wearing a helmet while engaging in your favourite winter sports and activities?

According to Parachute Canada, everyone should be gearing up; using the right gear for the sport. It’s estimated that approximately 35 per cent of all skiing and snowboarding head injuries could be prevented by simply wearing a helmet! Especially at risk are youth aged 10-19. This age group has the highest number of preventable injuries related to skiing and snowboarding.

Living in northern B.C., we have ample opportunity to ski, snowboard, ice skate, toboggan and snowmobile right in our own backyards. We are so fortunate to know the joy and exhilaration of playing in a winter wonderland. To stay in the game and on the slope, we need to do our part to keep active and prevent serious winter sport injuries!

So, where can you start? Get motivated and involved – commit to wearing the gear. Tell us where you’ll be wearing your gear this winter and you could win!

From January 14th to the 28th, we’re running a Facebook contest where you can post your favourite winter activity spots in northern B.C. (photos welcome!) for a chance to win a ski/winter sport helmet! The deadline is 2 p.m. on January 28th, full contest details available on our Facebook Page.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing all sorts of winter sport safety tips and information. Stay up to date by checking out the Northern Health Facebook & Twitter page.

Watch our awesome Gear Up For Winter video to get yourself ready for some safe winter fun.

Want more convincing facts about helmet safety? Check out Parachute Canada’s video below!

Alandra Kirschner

About Alandra Kirschner

Originally from Abbotsford, Alandra moved to northern B.C. in 2012 to pursue schooling to become a Registered Nurse. A 4th year UNBC student (BS, Nursing), Alandra is passionate about her field, especially acute care and mental health/addictions. In her free time, you’ll find her practicing yoga, watching movies, camping, and travelling.

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Safe Kids Week wrap-up: Safety tips for cyclists

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

Cycling can be a fun and active way to spend time with your kids. It’s even more fun when you’re doing so safely. Parachute encourages parents and caregivers to be role models for cycling safety by follow these important yet simple steps:

  • Protect Your Head, Wear a Helmet: A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, cutting the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%. Use the 2v1 rule for helmet fitting.
  • Check Your Ride: Ensure bikes are adjusted to the recommended height for the rider, tires are inflated and brakes are working properly.
  • Be Prepared: Get trained in bicycle safety and the rules of the road, use appropriate hand signals and obey all traffic signs.
  • Pick Family-Friendly Routes: Use designated areas for riding when available.
  • Ride in Well-Lit Areas: Be sure your bike has reflectors and lights if planning to ride in low-lit areas.
  • Pick the Right Side of the Road: Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, the same direction that traffic is going, and to stay as far right as possible.
  • Use Your Bell: Ensure your bike is equipped with a bell to announce when passing. If not, use your voice!
Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Thinking about kids’ safety

Graphic that reads: helmets reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 80%

Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits. Safe Kids Week is a great chance to ask ourselves what we can do to lower those numbers and prevent tragic injuries and death.

“Let’s be careful out there.” This mantra, going back to the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, resonates to this day. Consider that preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease and kill more youth than all other causes combined. Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits.

These figures come from Parachute, a national non-profit organization that describes itself as dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives through education and advocacy. It is also behind Safe Kids Week, which kicks off today and runs from May 4-10. This annual event strives to make us more aware of the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries. This year’s theme focuses on cycling and road safety.

Staying safe is an important message to communicate with children. What better way than to start with parents who are role models who influence the behaviours of their children. After all, why wear a helmet on the bike when mom doesn’t? Why stop at intersections if dad seems to just roll through?

There are a number of messages and recommendations aligned with the message of Safe Kids Week, starting with protecting your head. Wear a helmet! It should fit properly and be worn as designed because that protection cuts the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%!

Bikes should fit the kid. Make sure that your child’s bike is the right size for them, that the tires are properly inflated and the brakes work as intended. This is a great way to involve children in maintenance and awareness and it’s fun for them, too. It also helps if your child knows about the rules of the road and understands bicycle safety. Even a four-year-old can learn to stop and look before crossing a road and know to gear up before riding (even if they’re too young to be crossing the road alone).

Parent with a helmet adjusting their child's helmet. Text reads: Be a good "roll" model.

How can you be a good role model for kids? Do you wear a helmet? Obey the rules of the road?

Part of knowing the rules of the road includes knowing to ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic, but also to stay as far right as possible. And kids should have a bell to announce their presence, especially when they are passing.

Though not a focus of the Parachute Safe Kids Week this year, we also include trampolines for special attention. A recent study by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit of children admitted to BC Children’s Hospital found trampoline-related injuries occurred at a rate of 14.1 per 1,000 cases treated at BC Children’s Hospital emergency department (no other hospital was tracked).

Of the injuries identified as trampoline-related, fractures were the most common, followed by bruises and abrasions and sprains. The most likely points of injury were the ankle, elbow and head.

Sure, trampolines can be dangerous, but we realize they are also a lot of fun. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid injury. Safety increases with smart use: limit trampolines to one person at a time; don’t jump onto or off of the trampoline; avoid flips and somersaults which can lead to over-extension of the cervical spine. Active adult supervision is also important.

Summer is a great time to be a kid and helping them to be safe can mean that it will all be fun and games!

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Safe Kids Week 2015: Cycling and road safety

RCMP officer and youth wearing helmets on skateboards.

This year, Safe Kids Week is looking at cycling and road safety with an emphasis on helmets, safe road users, and parents as role models. Look for safety events happening in your community or inspire others and organize an event of your own!

I’m so happy when I see children pulling into school grounds, parks and friends’ houses on their bikes, skateboards and scooters. Who among us can’t identify with the exhilaration of the wind whipping at your face as you pedal and push your way along the streets? The freedom of the open road – there’s nothing quite like it.

Recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable road users and knowing that injuries are the leading cause of death and disability to children, this year Parachute’s Safe Kids Week is promoting awareness of cycling and road safety across Canada. Please take a moment to consider and plan for how you and your community can join in this national campaign running May 4-10, 2015.

This year’s Safe Kids Week theme will focus on:

  • Helmets
  • Safe road users such as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Parents as role models and influencers

Parachute can support your community Safe Kids Week activities. Check out their website for many great resources including an online toolkit, a backgrounder on cycling and road safety, and an event guide.

Longboarders

Make sure that your children cultivate a love not only for physical activity and the outdoors, but for enjoying these activities safely!

Bodies are made to move and regular physical activity is critical to healthy child development. Every time a child steps out onto a street or sidewalk with family and friends, abilities are tested and realized, memories are made. Encouraging and building on a love for walking, running, biking and skateboarding safely and without injury are priceless gifts to our children. Join us in promoting cycling and road safety in your community by participating in Safe Kids Week 2015. For more information, please visit Parachute and preventable.ca.

Denise Foucher

About Denise Foucher

Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.

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Concussion helmets are not a free pass

A young boy wears a hockey helmet to help prevent injury.

Helmets may help prevent injury, but no helmet can fully protect a person who is in the recovery stages of a concussion.

I was at a garage sale this past summer, scouting the piles, looking for a deal, when I came across a big pile of sports equipment, all of which was in great shape. There were several “like new” hockey helmets there. I know they can withstand multiple impacts, so getting a used one isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I picked one up to take a closer look and asked the lady hosting the sale what the price was. She said, “Well I’m asking a little more for that one because it’s a concussion helmet.” I said, “A concussion helmet? I’ve never heard of that. Does that mean that even if they have a concussion, they can still play if they’re wearing this helmet?” She responded, “Oh yeah, it’s designed for that.” I just about choked! My first thought was, “Geez… I work in injury prevention, why haven’t I heard of this kind of helmet before? My second thought was, “That just makes no sense to me at all!! How on earth could the padding and external design of a helmet have anything to do with what’s going on with the brain inside?”

So, I did some research. In a nutshell, the person selling the helmet was wrong. That’s because anyone with a concussion shouldn’t be playing a game or participating in a sport that puts them at risk for getting another one. They should be watching from the sidelines while their brain heals or resting their body and their brain at home.

At the end of the day, this story not only reinforces the importance of preventing and treating concussions. It also underscores the importance of using common sense where safety is concerned. If it doesn’t make sense, question it. If you don’t understand something, learn more about it. As parents, we have a huge role in keeping our children safe and healthy. That includes questioning and sometimes breaking trends, even if they are the social norm.

For more information on concussion resources and programs, such as Concussion Guidelines and the Smart Hockey program, visit Parachute Canada.

And don’t forget to enter the Falls Across the Ages contest.

Lynette Hewitt

About Lynette Hewitt

Lynette Hewitt works in Fort St. John as an Injury Prevention Coordinator for Northern Health. After receiving a BScN from UNBC, Lynette traveled a bit, then returned to her hometown of Fort St. John where she worked in med/surg, public health nursing, and home nursing care before settling into her current role. When not at work, she is trying to keep up with life as a busy wife and mom, which may or may not include time for snowshoeing, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, geocaching and, for a few short months, gardening!

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