Making Thanksgiving 2020 a safe and healthy one

Thanksgiving is usually a time to celebrate with friends and family. But it often entails a big group eating a meal together—inside. Thanks to COVID-19, that’s a big no-no this year. That means celebrations will be far from normal for many Canadians as health officials and politicians in many parts of the country are asking residents to scale back their holiday plans—or even cancel them altogether.
So, what to do with a long weekend without the turkey dinner?
Well, why not get out and explore our country’s natural beauty on foot this Thanksgiving? It’s not only a COVID-friendly activity, but it’s also the perfect way to catch a glimpse of the fall colours. But whether you’re hiking in a provincial park or exploring your local greenspace, it’s critical that you follow certain rail safety basics.
“The number one rule is to stay off all railway tracks,” explains Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. “It’s extremely dangerous to hike or walk on tracks—or even alongside them.  Tracks are also private property, not public hiking trails. It’s illegal to walk on them unless you’re using a designated crossing. So stay off the tracks and stay safe.”
Before you head off on a Thanksgiving hiking adventure, review these simple rail safety rules:
  • Stay on marked trails and off private property, including all railway tracks. Only cross tracks at designated crossings and obey all railway warning signs and signals.
  • Never assume tracks are abandoned. Even if train tracks look like they’re not in use, it doesn’t mean they’re inactive. Often, tracks that have been deactivated can also be reactivated without warning. Never assume they’re abandoned.
  • Plan your trip. Plan the route you’ll take and avoid ones that take you near or across railway tracks. Make sure someone knows your route and leave a time/date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned.
  • Put your phone down. If you’re hiking near railway crossings, being distracted can keep you from seeing or hearing oncoming trains.
  • Keep one ear out. You can’t avoid getting hit by a train if you can’t hear it coming. When wearing headphones, keep one ear out near railway crossings.
  • Don’t take photos on or near tracks. Trains can travel in both directions and at all times of day and night. You never know when a train might be coming along the tracks, so find another backdrop for your photos.

Please follow these simple rules and share them with the people you love—and have a happy, healthy and rail-safe Thanksgiving!