By Stan Ashbee
Westwind Weekly News
With the health care system, especially intensive care units under stress due to COVID-19, Alberta Health Services (AHS) reminds Albertans to make all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety a priority throughout the summer.
According to a recent media release, between 2002 and 2019, there have been an average of 4,840 ATV-related emergency department visits and 581 ATV-related hospital admissions each year in Alberta.
ATVs pose significant risk to all users and particularly children under 16 years of age, who likely do not have the strength, skills or judgment needed to operate an ATV.
Over the past 12 months, nearly 120 children were seen in Alberta’s two pediatric emergency departments due to ATV-related injuries, and 51 required hospital admission.
To protect children under 16 years of age, parents and caregivers are advised to ensure children do not drive or ride on an ATV. This includes ATVs marketed as ‘child-sized.’Albertans 16 years of age and older are urged to take the following precautions: Get trained: Before you hit the trails, get formal training from a recognized/trained ATV instructor. Don’t be shy about refreshing your training seasonally.
Wear the gear: Always wear a helmet.
CSA-compliant helmets must be worn by ATV users when riding on public land — but a helmet worn every ride can save your life. From 2002 to 2019, two of five ATV-rider deaths in Alberta were caused by head injuries. In 58 per cent of these head-injury deaths, the ATV riders were not wearing a helmet. In addition to a helmet, always wear a jacket, long pants, goggles, boots and gloves.
Look first: Be sure you’re aware of the weather forecast, fire outlook/potential, and any hazards (geographical, animal or human) or risks the trail(s) could pose. Ensure your ATV is equipped with an appropriate head lamp.
Buckle up: Be sure you’re fastened in properly and all gear and equipment (including your ATV restraints) are in proper working condition before you hit the trails.
Drive sober: Don’t use alcohol, cannabis or other drugs before or while operating an ATV; three out of every five people who died in ATV crashes between 2002 and 2019 tested positive for alcohol.
Seek help: Before you head out on the trail, let others know where you’re going and when they should expect you back. This helps your loved ones know when to call for help if you’ve been gone too long. Take a cellphone or working radio with you, as well as a first-aid kit.