Ottawa has seen a rash of house fire accidents this last week. The devastation from a fire accident is shocking and can leave lives in ruins. House fire accidents account for 30% of all fires in Canada, but 73% of fire-related deaths happen in the home. Cooking is the leading cause of house fires and injuries.
The absolute best defense against a house fire accident is to be prepared. A household fire safety plan is an absolute must. When fire starts, it spreads quickly and can become life-threatening within two minutes. You need a plan to get out fast.
Fire accident prevention
* Take the time to create a fire safety plan for you home.
* Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home.
* Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road.
* If there are infants or elderly people in the home, assign someone to assist them in the event of an emergency.
* Make sure that all windows and doors are easy to open and not barred or painted shut.
* Once you’re out, stay out!
Recovering from a fire can be an emotional and financially draining process. It is amazing how quicly lives can be turned upside down. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact.
Here is a quick reference.
* If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
* Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
* The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.
* Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
* Try to locate valuable documents and records.
* If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
* Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
* Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
*stats: Council of Canadian Fire Marshalls
Inviting a few friends over to celebrate the season or ring in the new year? Your social host liability and responsibilities go further than just providing the memorable music, drinks and delicious appetizers. As a social host, you are responsible for ensuring the safety of your guests. While you don’t have the same responsibilities as someone who runs a bar or restaurant, if you are having an event in your home or on your property where alcohol is served, you may have more legal responsibilities than you think.
As a social host, you should be aware of how much alcohol your guests are consuming, whether you provided it or they brought it along themselves. Guests who leave your home intoxicated could be involved in a motor vehicle accident injuring themselves or others. Guests who over indulge can also choke, slip and fall, assault another or injure themselves in a number of other ways. As a social host, you may be sued if you were aware that your guest was intoxicated and you did not prevent them from driving or becoming injured.
Prevention and planning ahead is always the best course of action when hosting a party where alcohol is involved. It is much easier to reason with your guests when they arrive at the party sober than when they are trying to leave the party intoxicated. Explain to your guests ahead of time that you have zero tolerance for drinking and driving and that they will either leave your party sober, in a taxi or not at all.
Here are some tips for safe social hosting:
* Limit guest list to those you know
* Provide filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages
* Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who should not drive home
* Stop serving alcohol well before the time the party is to end
* Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated
* Consider hiring a smart serve trained bar tender for your party
* Stay alert yourself, always remembering your responsibilities as a host
Social Host Liability. A few important numbers you may need in the Ottawa area:
The Ride-Dowload the App
WestWay Taxi – (613) 727-0101
Blue Line (613) 238-111
UBER -Dowload the App
DJs Taxi – (613) 829-9900
As we head into the weekend, many of you will be on the roads. Winter is upon us and with it comes some challenging driving conditions. Now is the time to make sure that your vehicle is in top condition for winter driving. Getting ready is only half the battle. Winter conditions also require a refresher in driving safety. Snow and ice need to be taken seriously. Going the extra mile by getting your vehicle ready for winter and learning what it takes to drive safely through ice and snow could be a lifesaver.
First things first… Do you have your snow tires on ? If not, do it now ! It’s safer and your insurance company likely offers you a discount. If you can buy snow tires, please do.
Check your tires
Low air pressure and worn tires are a dangerous combination on wet or slick roads. No traction means no control. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated and that your treads are deep. You may also consider an investment in snow tires.
Replace or Refill All Fluids
* Coolant—Make sure your antifreeze levels are correct to prevent freezing in your radiator.
* Oil—Time for an oil change? Keep your levels topped up all season long.
* Wiper fluid—Change to winter wiper fluid to keep your wipers from freezing and keep your vision clear.
Cold Weather & Battery Capacity
It isn’t only your engine that if affected by the cold. Your battery capacity is reduced by the cold weather too. A thorough inspection of your battery, cables, terminals, and fluid will help you make sure your car is ready for the winter.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Keeping a safety kit in your car all year is a good idea. Things like road flares, a jack, a lug wrench, and a first aid kit should be at hand no matter what. It’s also a good idea to update this kit with seasonal items that can keep you warm and prepared for winter’s worst.
Items to include in your winter safety kit include:
* Blanket, leather gloves, and hat
* Bag of kitty litter or sand
* Ice scraper and brush
* Small shovel
* Safe and leak-proof container of coolant
Our Ottawa injury team wishes you a safe and fun filled weekend. Drive safely.
There once was a time, not long ago, when children were taught to look both ways before they crossed the street. In those days, we were all worried that drivers would not see pedestrians. We were afraid of the drivers. Now we also need to be on the look out for a pedestrian accident.
Today, pedestrians themselves are increasingly becoming the problem, walking around with their eyes on their phones and earbuds plugged in.
In fact, around 40 percent of Canadians admitted to texting as they walk and about 25 percent said they always or often walk with their headphones on. Not surprising given the increase in cell phone use over the years, but no text or call is worth the risk. These distractions are a very real danger, especially during the month of November which is noted for an increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The time change leaves commuters at a greater risk walking and driving home in the dark.
While laws are in the works across Canada to fine distracted drivers, it’s best to make sure that you and your family are always safe and that you are not liable for an accident.
Our Top Ottawa Injury Tips for Avoiding a Pedestrian Accident
1. If you must use headphones or other electronic devices, maintain a volume where you can still hear the sounds of traffic and your surroundings.
2. If you need to talk to someone, make a call or text, stop and do it away from the traffic.
3. Focus on the people, objects and obstacles around you.
4. Don’t jaywalk. Cross streets carefully at a traffic light. Stay aware of the traffic and the vehicles and bikes on the road.
5. Look up, not down, when stepping into an intersection or walking in a parking lot.
6. Stay alert and be aware especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier and drivers aren’t as likely to see you.
More and more, our Ottawa injury lawyers are finding that the things that social media , the things you post online are being admitted into in court as evidence. Think about it. The updates, photos and videos you post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat can be very easy to access.
Every day, people post photos, status updates and videos that create a window into their personal lives. Insurance companies may explore all of your posts, past and present, to uncover your character and your lifestyle. They will look at the type of activities you participated in prior to your injury and dig for signs of pre-existing injuries. More importantly they will follow your activity after the injury.
Social media recommendations from our Ottawa injury lawyers:
Lock down your accounts– This is the easiest way to help prevent information from being used against you.
Monitor photos – Keep a close eye on photos that you post or are tagged in. Untag yourself or ask the person who posted it to delete it right away.
Watch what friends post – Monitor what’s being posted on your wall to make sure nothing could be misinterpreted.
Monitor comments – Be careful when commenting on friends’ statuses or photos.
Our Ottawa injury lawyers ask you to consider your social media presence –
Although Facebook, Twitter, and blogs are the most targeted, don’t forget about the rest of your online presence. Are you on LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, or Flickr? These may all be other sources of information for other lawyers or insurance companies.
Ask the question: “Who am I really sharing this information with? Could it be used as harmful evidence?” If your gut tells you yes, it’s probably a good idea not to post it
Don’t talk to strangers. If you are involved in a personal injury or insurance case, beware of friend requests from people that you don’t know. Folks who want to access your information have ways of making you think that you know them. Be very careful.
Teen driver safety is so very important. As Ottawa injury lawyers, we meet with families regularly who have lost a teen in an accident. Sadly, teen drivers are the most at risk drivers in our country. Inexperience, coupled with immaturity, can result in not knowing how to react or even risk taking behaviours like speeding, distracted driving, drug and alcohol use and not wearing a seatbelt. All of these behaviours can lead to an increased accident rate among teens. The Ontario Provincial Police report that teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
National Teen Driver Safety Week aims to get the word out about safe driving to parents and teens encouraging them to start talking about the dangers. Also parents need to lead by example. Specifically, parents should talk to their teens about what is known as the “5 to Drive” or the five most common teen safety driving issues.
Speeding Drugs or alcohol
Driving and riding without a seatbelt
Using a cell phone or
Texting while driving
Talk to your teens about accidents and how to stay safe
During National Teen Driver Safety Week, our Ottawa injury lawyers urge you to take the opportunity to talk with teenagers about these issues and remind them to take a stand for safe driving even when not behind the wheel. That means speaking out if you are in a car with someone who is texting while driving, making sure not to distract the driver and calling home for a ride home if another teen driver is unsafe.
This year it is particularly important to talk to teens about distracted driving as the incidents of distraction are clearly on the rise. Approximately 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers younger than 20*.
Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Let us all do our part to ensure that all teen drivers . Our Ottawa injury lawyers want you to #GETHOMESAFE.
*Ontario Provincial Police
We have all heard and read the distributing statistics on the dangers of distracted driving and our Ottawa injury lawyers want to remind you of some of the most common causes of distracted driving. Last month, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that distracted driving is now responsible for twice as many deaths as impaired driving. This year, they have investigated 38 on-road death accidents involving distracted driving – almost twice as many as those caused by impaired drivers, making distracted driving accidents the number one killer on our roads. Since 2009, it has been blamed for more than 600 accidents resulting in deaths on OPP-patrolled roads.
Accidents and Distracted Driving
There are several ways a person can be considered distracted while driving. Drivers are distracted when they have their eyes off the road, mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel. Using a cell phone, especially to send a text message, does all three of these at once which is one of the reasons why it is so dangerous. All 10 provinces have adopted laws to stop texting while driving, with fines ranging from $80 to $1,200 and five demerit points (*CAA). Think you won’t get caught because you have your phone in your lap? Gatineau police officers are now riding buses this month as part of a road safety blitz targeting drivers who are texting or on social media.
Social Media and Accidents
Social media use on smartphones has also become a serious concern with apps like Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. While these are obviously extremely dangerous distractions, others are less obvious. Texting, eating or drinking, grooming, using a GPS and adjusting the radio are now all considered forms of distracted driving. We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves, our passengers and other drivers safe on the road. Be aware of distracted driving, don’t be a passenger in a car where the driver is distracted and don’t be tempted to take your mind off the road, your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.
Drive safely Ottawa !
Seatbelt accidents are no joke. Believe it or not, there was a time when seatbelts and child car seats were not mandatory in Ontario. The seatbelt was invented in 1959, but mandatory seatbelt use did not become law in Ontario until 1976. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved and today more than 92 per cent of all people wear a seatbelt in Ontario. ( www.allontario.ca)
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the most important ways for drivers and passengers to protect themselves. In fact, the chances of surviving a an accident increase dramatically when a seatbelt is worn properly. In case of an accident, seatbelts reduce the risk of passengers striking the interior of the vehicle, colliding with other passengers in the vehicle or being fully ejected from the vehicle. As Ottawa injury lawyers, we read accident reports daily and seatbelts accidents are an integral part of most reports. Click here to read some of our accident cases involving seatbelts accidents. A driver who is not wearing a seatbelt is more than 40 times more likely to be killed in a crash than one who is properly buckled up. (Ministry of Transportation)
Seatbelt accidents laws in Ontario
All Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and securely fastened. In addition, the driver of the car is also responsible to make sure that children who are not old enough to wear a seatbelt are secured in a child car seat or booster seat.
Air Bags and Accidents
Air bags do not take the place of a seatbelt. They won’t prevent the driver or passengers from being thrown out of the car. Airbags can injure children.
Seatbelt Accidents in Ontario: Fines and Demerit Points
Drivers can face a fine if he/she, or anyone in the vehicle under age 16, is not wearing a seatbelt or secured in a proper child seat. The safety of passengers is the driver’s responsibility. Fines range from $240 to $1,000 and drivers will receive two demerit points. A driver can also be fined for having a broken seatbelt, even if it is not being used when they are stopped by police.
Passengers who are 16 years old or older are responsible for buckling up themselves. If they appear to be at least 16 years old, police officers can ask you for their name, address and date of birth. Passengers over 16 will face a fine if they are not using or wearing a seatbelt properly.
Seatbelt Accidents and the Back Seat
While they’re not required to sit in the back seat, research has shown that children under age 13 are safest in the back seat away from active airbags. However, there is an exception. If the vehicle does not have back seat, children can sit in the front seat only if there is no active airbag or the air bag can be switched off.
Seatbelt Accidents Safety Do’s and Don’ts
- wear your seatbelt so that it crosses your chest and lower hips. These areas of the body are better able to resist the force of a crash.
- make sure you have one working seatbelt for every person in your vehicle.
- wear any part of your seatbelt twisted. A twisted seatbelt won’t spread the force of a crash across your body to protect you properly.
- put the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back.
Our Ottawa injury lawyers wish you safe travels and don’t forget to buckle up !
Now that school is in session and Ottawa area students are settled on campus, let’s talk about campus safety. Students are busy with their studies and engaging in all of the fun and excitement of college life: club and pubs, sports and socializing. With so many new routines, new surroundings and new friends, student safety is always a concern for students and staff alike.
Every year, accidents and injuries do occur on our college campuses even with an abundance of safety measures in place. All three Ottawa post-secondary institutions maintain strong campus safety policies and programs as well as strong communication campaigns. All three also employ security staff to ensure student welfare.
Any student’s best defense is always to make safety a top priority and prepare to reduce the risk.
Campus Safety Tips for Ottawa Area Students
Use the Buddy System
As often as possible, when walking at night, bring a buddy. There’s power in numbers, and you are less likely to become a target when walking pairs or a group. Walking with someone will also reduce the chances of being involved in a pedestrian accident. Need a buddy? Visit the website of your school and learn about the foot patrol program. Here are a few important numbers you may need:
University of Ottawa: Non-emergency: 613-562-5499 or Emergency: 613-562-5411 (or Emergency button on your Mitel telephone)
Carleton University : On-Campus Medical 613-520-4444
Algonquin College: Dial 5000 from any campus phone or Security Services 613-727-4723 X 5000 emergencies
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
The best way to avoid accident or injury is to remain alert and aware. Distracted people make easy targets. Easy targets walk while on their phones and don’t pay attention to their surroundings. When walking on campus, look around for suspicious people and activities at all times. Remain alert.
Take A Safe Route
Avoid walking at night if possible. If you have to walk at night, take a well-lit path. Look for street lamps and other lit paths and stay where there are a lot of people. Be aware of the new pedestrian crosswalk rules.
Don’t Give Out Personal Information
Never give out your room number or exact address to strangers, people you have just met, or friends you have met online. Have them meet you somewhere neutral first to see if they are trustworthy before inviting them to your home or your room. Also, be mindful of what you share on social media.
Let Your Close Friends Know Where You Are Going
While it is risky to reveal your whereabouts or plans on social media, sharing this information with your roommates or close friends is a good safety measure. Let someone know where you are going, who you are going to meet and when you are likely to be back.
Prevent Crime While Driving
When driving on or near campus, stay on well-traveled roadways and always keep your doors locked. Before entering your vehicle, make sure no one is lying in the backseat or on the floor. If someone is following your car, drive to the nearest police station.
Report Suspicious Activity
If you see someone acting suspiciously, report it to campus police immediately. If you ever feel unsafe or threatened, find a safe well-lit place and call the police.
Watch Your Food and Drink
Never accept food or drink from people that you don’t know. Always keep your eyes on your food or drink during a party or date. Never leave your drink unattended at a bar or at a party.
Always Carry Your Cell Phone
Your phone is an asset to your safety. Use it to keep emergency contact numbers and install an alarm app.
We hope that all students enjoy a rewarding school year. Stay safe, be aware and make safety a priority.
From our Ottawa injury lawyers…
Our Ottawa injury lawyers hope you have enjoyed your summer. As we head into the fall and see the kids back off to school, we thought we would remind you of a few very important recent changes to laws for Ontario drivers and pedestrians.
Changes to passing cyclists
Drivers must give cyclists at least one metre of room wherever possible. This offence in Ontario could cost you $110 and two demerit points . Ottawa police say they’ll start enforcing the law shortly.
Dooring is also an area with newer rules and fines. In Ontario, motorists who open the door of their vehicle into the path of a cyclist without checking first will face increased set fines of $365 and three demerit points, if conviction.
Changes to distracted driving
Please remember that it’s not just about talking on your phone. In Ontario, you are not permitted to look at your phone, text or talk without hands-free on your phone when driving. In Ontario, the current penalty for distracted driving is approximately $200 to an increased fine of $490 and 3 demerit points, if convicted. New drivers with a G1 or G2 license could also have their driving permits suspended on the spot.
Changes to pedestrian crossovers
In January of this year, new laws in Ontario came into effect when it comes to pedestrians and crosswalks. Ontario drivers now must wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the other side of road at crossovers and school crossings. Before, drivers only needed to wait until a pedestrian had crossed their side of the road only. For more detailed information , visit www.ottawainjury.ca/lawyers/safety/new-laws-ontario-pedestrian-crosswalks/
Changes to driving under the influence
Drinking and driving is not only only type of driving considered to be “under the influence” . Ontario drivers caught driving under the influence of illegal drugs now face the same penalties a someone who is considered a drunk driver. Depending on how influenced a drivers is, the fines and penalties vary from a 3- 90 day suspension of one’s driver’s licence.
Changes to driving around emergency vehicles
Otherwise known as the “move over” law, Ontario drivers will be required to slow down and move into the next lane over whenever passing a stopped emergency vehicle such as police, ambulance, fire and tow trucks, when their lights are flashing and they are pulled over. The fine in Ontario for not complying with these rules is $490 and three demerit points.
Be safe out there….