This September, teach kids the rail safety basics

September is here and that means children across the country are returning to the classroom after a very long break. But kids don’t just need to learn math, science, and history. Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada is asking parents and teachers to ensure that children also learn the rail safety basics this fall.
Unlike adults, children can’t always focus on one thing at a time and they aren't as good at sensing or predicting danger. That’s why it’s critical to teach them to only cross tracks at designated railway crossings; to take the safest path to school and never use tracks as a shortcut; and not to walk or play on tracks or railway property.
But how to best teach children these rules? Well, it really depends on their age.
Kindergarten through grade 5
When it comes to rail safety, it’s never too early to start teaching the basics. For younger children, it needs to be done in a fun and engaging way. OL’s newest storybook-style presentation, Train and the Whateveritwas, is a great resource that introduces children to some important rail-safety messages. Through a colourful and engaging animated story, the six-minute video encourages children to stay rail-safe by heeding a simple, but important, message: “Train or Track? Just Keep Back!”
For older kids, it’s important that they understand what all of the railway warning signs and signals mean, and just how dangerous trespassing on railway tracks and property can be. OL’s “Train your brain” activity sheet is a great way to teach them about rail safety in an entertaining way. 
Grade 6 through 8

Older children have a lot more freedom. They’re walking to school alone and out playing with their friends. But they often don’t understand how fast and quiet trains can be. It’s critical that they understand this so they don’t make the mistake of walking along railway tracks, or using tracks as a shortcut home. They need to be taught these important rules to stay safe:
  • Cross tracks only at designated railway crossings
  • Always stop, look and listen in both directions before crossing railway tracks
  • Never play on or near railway tracks or trains
  • Never throw things at trains or place things on railway tracks
Grade 9 and older

Teenagers are most at risk of being involved in a trespassing or crossing incident. Not only do they have more independence, but they often take more risks. They’re also often glued to their phones—which can be especially dangerous around railways. To stay safe, it’s critical that teens know to:
  • Keep off cell phones when around tracks and trains
  • Obey all railway signs and signals
  • Never use tracks as a shortcut
  • Never take photos on tracks
  • Keep one ear out when wearing headphones to hear trains
Older teens also face an added danger: driving. OL’s Train to Drive series will immerse them in a virtual-reality driving environment and ask them to make real-time decisions behind the wheel to test whether they know how to safely approach railway crossings. Watching our #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.)
So, before the kids head back to school this fall, make sure they know how to stay safe around tracks and trains—it could be the most important thing they learn this school year. And check out our website for other resources to help keep kids rail safe this school year.