A new year, a safer you!

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Resolve to make safety a priority in 2014. Here are some practical suggestions to get you started:

1. I will drive sober. I will drive alert.

Impairment has many faces – alcohol, drugs and fatigue are just a few examples. Learn how to recognize the signs of impairment and be willing to seek help when needed. There is no excuse for impaired driving.

2. I will focus on the driving task at hand – and that’s it.

Distractions take your attention off the road and that can have dangerous and deadly consequences. Put your smartphone out of reach. Avoid fumbling with the radio while driving. Pull over to a safe spot if you need to devote your attention to something other than driving.

3. I will wear my seatbelt.

It is estimated that seatbelts in passenger vehicles save 1,000 lives every year in Canada. Buckle up.

4. I will be a safe pedestrian and cyclist; safety is my responsibility too!

Be predictable. Do not jaywalk or make sudden maneuvers. Walk on sidewalks and cross at marked intersections whenever possible. Cyclists should stop at ‘Stop’ signs. Make yourself visible to drivers by wearing coloured clothing and/or reflective material.

5. I will use my head and wear a helmet.

Wear a helmet when enjoying activities such as hockey, skating, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding or motorcycling. Pair each activity with the right helmet.

6. I will routinely check my home for safety hazards. Then, I will address them.

Prevention is the key to harm reduction. Clutter on the stairs? Clear it. Have a long, dangling window blind cord? Cut it and put the remnant out of reach of children. Identify risks before injuries occur.

7. I will take steps to stop fires before they start at home.

Fires claim eight lives each week in Canada. Take precautions to protect your home and the people and pets in it. Check that your smoke detectors are in good working order; change the batteries twice a year. Have a working fire extinguisher within reach of the kitchen and fireplaces. Never leave candles unattended.

8. I will recognize that firearms safety is my responsibility.

Community safety is your responsibility. Get firearms safety training. Lock and unload firearms, and store ammunition separately. Know your options if you inherit a firearm, or have a firearm you no long want.

9. I will be a courteous, informed and responsible cyber-citizen.

Social media and online safety includes guarding your personal information and being thoughtful about the words and images your post online. Think before you comment.

10. I will get the right training.

Safety training and on-the-job instruction saves lives. Learn how to protect yourself. The Canada Safety Council offers a range of courses, from babysitter’s training to OH&S. Visit www.canadasafetycouncil.org/training for a complete list of courses the CSC offers.

11. I will wear a life-jacket when I am in, on or near water.

In a boat? Weak swimmer? Wear a life jacket!

12. I will speak with my doctor and pharmacist about my medications.

Medications can interact with each other to produce unwanted and impairing side-effects. These may affect your driving abilities.

13. I will develop healthy relationships. I will not be a bully.

Bullying happens at home, in the school yard, at work and online. It hurts, and it needs to stop. Find ways to relax, take time to think before responding and find constructive, creative outlets for frustration. Stand up for others who are being bullied.

14. I will lead by example.

Consistently make safety a priority and become a role model for your children, friends and people in your community. Safety information, activities and colouring pages for children featuring Elmer the Safety Elephant are available at www.elmer.ca.

Have your own safety resolution? Let us know! Tweet us: @CanadaSafetyCSC.

Safety is an attitude. Best wishes for a safe and happy 2014!

Organizations: Canada Safety Council

Geographic location: Canada

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