Get active while staying safe this season

Skating safety tips

While skating is a great recreational activity for kids, outdoor conditions change quickly and frequently throughout late winter and early spring. During the mild weather that we often experience in February and March, serious cracks begin to form on outdoor ice, and the ice begins to thin.

Make sure your children know that it is safer to skate at an arena or a friend’s backyard rink, with adult supervision. Teach them that if they don’t know whether the ice is safe, they should stay off! Never leave children unattended around or on ice. Stay off unfamiliar ice and avoid travelling across ice after dark.

Prevent tragedies by knowing how to access ice conditions. When in doubt of the ice’s thickness, stay off!

The following guidelines should be observed:

• 7 cm (3”) or less – STAY OFF

• 10 cm (4”) – ice fishing, walking, cross-country skiing

• 12 cm (5”) – one snowmobile or ATV

• 20-30 cm (8”-12”) – one car or small pickup truck

• 30-38 cm (12”-15”) – a medium truck (pickup or van)

Respect local advisories. If the authorities issue warnings to stay off the ice, stay off!

It’s also important to remind your children to wear a helmet and dress warmly for the outdoor weather conditions. If your child is new to skating, make sure that you are there – on the ice – to offer your support and guidance.

Why is exercise so important?

Kids (and their parents!) need regular exercise. Along with better fitness and strength, active kids often do better in school and socially by having fun playing with friends and learning new skills. Active children tend to be happier with better self-confidence than their sedentary counterparts.

Canadian and World Health Organization guidelines indicate that children and youth need 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day. Unfortunately, most Canadian kids are not active enough.

Data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) indicates that only seven per cent of kids attain this level of activity. What’s more concerning, half of children and youth do not get even five minutes of vigorous activity on at least one day a week.

Inactivity has many consequences, including obesity. Obesity has been linked with many chronic diseases, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer. Close to one third (31.5 per cent) of 5- to 17-year-olds, an estimated 1.6 million Canadians, are classified as overweight (19.8 per cent) or obese (11.7 per cent), according to the CHMS.

Obese children are more likely than their healthy-weight counterparts to become obese adults, making childhood obesity a significant public health concern.

Incorporating more exercise into your child’s routine can be as easy as going for a walk after supper. Limit recreational screen time to no more than two hours a day and use active transportation such as walking or cycling whenever possible, rather than taking the car or the bus.  It’s better for the environment and for your health!

For more information, visit the Canada Safety Council online: Safety tips and
resources for children, including colouring pages and activity sheets, are available at Elmer the Safety Elephant’s website:

Catherine Gaudreau is the former communications coordinator at the Canada Safety Council. The CSC is a national and independent non-profit organization dedicated to the cause of safety.