Making rail safety a back-to-school “basic”

It’s back-to-school time, and after two years of disruptions and on-and-off again virtual learning, most students are finally heading back to the classroom. (Fingers crossed that they stay there!) But as parents and teachers prepare, Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada wants to remind them that ensuring kids know the rail safety basics is just as important as any math, science, or history lesson.
“Many schools across this country are close to railway tracks. That means kids may have to cross them to get to and from school every day,” explains Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. “To keep kids safe, they need to understand railway warning signs and signals, and just how dangerous trespassing on railway property and tracks can be.”
Unlike adults, children can’t always focus on one thing at a time and they aren't as good at sensing or predicting danger. Older children often think they’re “invisible” and are more likely to take risks. That’s why it’s critical to teach them to only cross tracks at designated railway crossings, to never use tracks as a shortcut, and to always obey railway signs and signals.
Make learning about rail safety fun
Whether the kids in your life are starting first grade or heading off to university, one of the ways to teach them the rail safety basics is by making use of OL’s many resources.
For younger children, OL’s storybook-style presentation, Train and the Whateveritwas, is a great resource. Through a colourful and engaging six-minute animated story, children are encouraged to stay rail-safe by heeding a simple, but important, message: “Train or Track? Just Keep Back!”
For their part, older children and youth need to understand the different railway warning signs and signals, and just how dangerous ignoring them can be. OL’s new Seriously. Read the Signs. campaign is a great way to teach youth between 13 and 24 about rail safety in an entertaining way. Its three short, animated videos drive home the point that while it might be easy to ignore signs—or to think that they don’t apply to you—not following them can have unintended consequences.
So, no matter what age your kids are, take the time to teach them how to stay safe around tracks and trains. It may be the most important thing they learn all year.