Safety and winter recreation

By Richard HaskellSkating, Toronto, February, 2014

Winter doesn’t have to be all cold hands and aggravation. It can be an enjoyable time of year if you choose to get out and engage in any number of outdoor activities. But never forget the basic rules of common sense. Wear helmets when skiing and snowmobiling and consider them when skating or tobogganing as well. You can be sure the athletes taking part in the winter Olympics at Sochi will all be sporting them – and those being worn by two Canadian skiers will have a particularly special meaning. Brad Spence’s helmet was designed by Gillian O’Blenes, a 17-year-old cancer patient, while Roz Groenewoud hopes to embroider a sticker with the name “Sarah” insider her helmet, honouring her friend Sarah Burke, a freestyle skier and four-time X Games champion who died in a skiing accident in January 2012.

As recently as 30 years ago, it was uncommon to see someone skiing, snowboarding or skating wearing a helmet. “Overly cautious’ might have been the reaction. But with the ever- growing awareness of concussions and the potential for brain injuries, helmets have almost become the norm – and rightly so.

Skiing and snowboarding

On Dec. 29, 2013, racing car driver extraordinaire Michael Schumacher made headlines when he sustained a head injury while skiing in the French Alps. A month later, he remains in an induced coma, and there are definite concerns he may never make a full recovery. Yes, he was wearing a helmet, but if hadn’t been, it’s very likely he wouldn’t have survived at all.

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Internet Safety and Security: Protecting Your Time Online

By G. Ian Bowles

Often we forget that some of the Internet’s most powerful benefits are also its biggest dangers. Information is available everywhere, good and bad, and we are all anonymous in an online context. Unfortunately, there are many people who will use that to their advantage by trying to trick us into revealing private information. The Internet is a fully shared experience, and we must think about consequences before we add to what is “out there.” Anything we leave, anything we write or “say,” cannot be taken back.

But we can’t just unplug our mobile devices and disconnect our Internet service. So to help educate Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) members about Internet Security and Safety, IT and Web Consultant Matthew Kleinosky presented an overview of the topic during January’s BIST community meeting.


Kleinosky’s style was quite effective: most of us use the Internet, and I think all of us left this session with a reminder that although online activities should be fun and productive, our time needs to be protected as well. The presentation was fun and light, but pulled no punches when giving recommendations on being safe.

Kleinosky mentioned a few of the primary risks. One is your “online legacy”: people will be able to see, 10 years from now, simple comments you make on websites today. Future employers and co-workers and friends will see those comments as though they were just made, and you won’t be able to explain the context. There are many more malicious dangers as well: identity theft, cyber-bullying, predators and scams. Bullying is an important topic because it can easily affect how you perceive your time online, and result in physical or emotional hurt. Remember: bullying is a crime, and can be reported at  Cybertip!ca

Kleinosky made several suggestions to avoid Internet pitfalls, and they all involve a certain amount of vigilance and constant observation. Much of it is being careful, but people can try to trick you into letting your guard down.

A few tricks to be on alert for:
♣    Beware of emails from people you don’t know, and always confirm what you read.
♣    Be careful about links provided in an email.
♣    Develop good password habits and never give those passwords to anyone.
♣    If you’re dealing with anything related to money or paying for a purchase, make sure you’re on a secure site. One way to check for this is to see if the URL has https:// at the beginning. (The “s” is key.)
♣    Although the Internet can be dangerous, there are also tools that help to protect us from that danger. One is Note that the https:// appears when you first go to the site; this is a tool to help to remember and use passwords.
♣    Kleinosky also suggested and Hoax-Slayer as sites that can be used to check out rumours or stories you hear online.

The presentation was well received and seemed popular. Hopefully, we can avoid the kinds of dangers that Kleinosky explored. Although the Internet should be a place that we can explore safely and with confidence, we need to guard our presence when we’re “out there”.

G. Ian Bowles, brain injury survivor and BIST Communications Committee Chair

Monthly preview: BIST takes on winter

Canadian winters.

Love them or hate them, there is no denying that
winters and Canadians’ struggle against the extreme conditions that they bring are
part of what defines us. Look no further than a 2008 survey
commissioned by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Dominion
Institute. With icons such as the Maple Leaf, hockey and the Canadian flag topping the list of the 101 things that best define this country, those surveyed still had winter on their minds and ranked it 85th on the list.

Whatever your feelings toward our inevitable winters, we here at BIST intend
to help you to deal with it as we roll out our first monthly theme for the blog (a new year, a new direction, right?).

Melissa Myers’ report provides vital information for anyone participating in winter sports such as hockey, snowboarding or tobogganing, with a particular focus the appropriate helmets for different activities.

While the cold temperatures and snow make for fun on the slopes and pond, they also can create havoc on the roads. Check back here later this month for tips and advice on driving in winter conditions featuring an interview with ‘The Safe Driver’ himself, Scott Marshall, director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada.

Also this month, read the first of many stories written by a BIST member living
with the effects of an acquired brain injury.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to miss a single post? Then ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter where we will offer links to our latest posts and other interesting articles or information relating to this month’s theme.

In the meantime, stay safe.

Matthew Chung. BIST member and Communications Committee volunteer.