Autumn safety tips

Safety and Security

Autumn safety tips

Des Ryan is a retired police officer and a Cabbagetown Residents Association Board Director. He provides occasional articles on keeping safe and secure in our neighbourhood.

Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that school is back in session, everyone is back to work, and that the traffic in this city is likely worse than it ever was. Not only that, the days are getting shorter.

Thanks for that, Des, and what does that have to do with safety? you say.

Well, you may find yourself doing that pre-dawn or after-dinner run or quick spin on the bike in the dark. Or you may find that it’s a lot darker when your walking Bowser, both in the morning and at night. As a result, you may not be as visible to motorists as you were just a week or two ago. When it comes to your safety, See and Be Seen is a great mantra.

– Wear that reflective jacket.
– Consider a headlamp as well as activating the lighting system on your bike.
– Make sure that car stops before you cross the road with the pup because there is always the possibility that the driver just did not see you.

We recently held a safety and security walk with representatives from city hall and 51 Division of Toronto Police Services and we noted that burned-out street lights are a particular issue in these early-dark evenings. If you see a street or alleyway light not working, do not contact the city’s 3-1-1 line – they do not take Toronto Hydro calls. Kelly Sather, constituency assistant for the Ward 28 office, invites you to contact her at and she will expedite the repair with Toronto Hydro.

Another change is the falling leaves. As September moves to October, the number of leaves falling on our streets increases exponentially. Be aware that driving on wet leaves can be similar to driving on ice: stopping, starting, and, when there is any speed involved, even turning can be challenging. Give that car in front of you a little extra space, watch your speed, and remember that that not all pedestrians are wearing florescent yellow jackets.

And then, I’m sorry to say, there is frost. Yes, one day, sooner or later, you are going to walk out and see that crispy film on your windshield. At first, a shot of hot air will do it but, eventually, you will need to scrape the icy coating off by hand. Be prepared:

– Start looking now for that ice scraper you put somewhere special last spring so you wouldn’t lose it like you do every year.
– Make sure you have an extra container of antifreeze in the car.
– Schedule your appointment to get those snow tires put on to avoid spending an entire Saturday waiting at the garage with everyone else who put it off too long or, worse yet, find yourself slipping and sliding on the roads one morning after the first snowfall, cursing yourself (or whomever is responsible for car maintenance in your household) for not having recalled that snow does fall in Toronto every winter.

Back to frost on the windows: When you scrape the windows, do all of them. A tiny little hole just big enough for you to peep out of is not sufficient. You need to be able to see as much of what is in front, beside, and behind you as possible. I know you’re likely almost late for where you’re going even before you get to the car in the morning. I know it’s yuckier out than it looked from your front window. And, if you’re like me, I know you are still looking for your gloves so your fingers are getting cold. Take that extra couple of minutes to clear all of the frost and ice from your car windows. You need to be able to see your neighbour running up ahead, the cyclist coming up behind and beside you, and the old guy walking Bowser who suddenly decides that he needs to cross the street.

Safety is not an accident. It is an anticipated event. Be prepared and be safe. 

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