Teachers: Make rail safety part of your lesson plans this year

We know the end of summer is a busy time for teachers. They’re rushing around buying school supplies, setting up their classrooms, and working on their lesson plans. But if you’re a teacher busy preparing for September, Operation Lifesaver hopes you’ll consider the importance of teaching children about rail safety this school year.
Many children don’t instinctively understand the hazards associated with tracks and trains, or how to behave safely around them. And if they aren’t taught the rail safety rules, it can end in tragedy.
In October 2018, a six-year-old girl was killed when she was struck by a commuter train in Calgary. She had wandered outside and onto the tracks while her mother was busy getting the family ready for school. When the commuter train approached, the little girl reportedly became confused by the warning bells and lights, and ran back in front of the train’s path.
Providing teachers with important rail-safety tools
When it comes to rail safety, it’s never too early to start teaching children the basics—and Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada’s Educators’ Toolkit makes it easy for teachers to share important rail safety information and messages with their students. It provides educators with presentations, brochures, and classroom activities to ensure their students know how to stay rail-safe.

“We believe that rail safety is a shared responsibility, and we need teachers’ help to reach young Canadians,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director, Operation Lifesaver Canada. “This toolkit makes it easy for educators to find age-appropriate information to teach students how to stay safe around tracks and trains.”
Offering resources for students of all ages
In addition to our Educators’ Toolkit, OL also has a wealth of other resources for students— no matter what the grade level. For younger children, OL’s two Thomas & FriendsTM rail safety books—the Stand Back activity book and the Stay Safe story book—teach valuable lessons about the dangers of not stopping at rail crossings, standing too close to the platform edge at rail stations, or playing near the tracks. A PDF of the Stay Safe story book is available on OL’s website, and hard copies of this and the Stand Back activity book will be distributed by OL Ambassadors at school and community events from coast to coast this year.

OL’s storybook-style presentation, Train and the Whateveritwas, is another 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!”
Reaching older students with the rail-safety message
For older students, OL’s Seriously. Read the Signs. videos drive home the point that while it may be easy to ignore signs—or to think that they don’t apply to you—not following them can cost you your life.
For high school students, watching OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies videos will also drive home just how dangerous tracks and trains can be. Each video tells the tragic story of someone—often a young person—who took a risk around tracks and paid the price. (Warning: these videos can be very disturbing.)
Let’s work together to make 2023-24 a rail-safe school year. Teachers, before you head back to the classroom this fall, find ways to make rail safety part of your lesson plan—it could be the most important thing you teach your students this school year.