Child Safety

Child Safety 

Keeping your child safe is a top priority for parents. Keep in mind, no safety measures can make a space completely safe. Active supervision is important to protect your child.  Read on to learn more about:

Car Seat Safety

Keeping your child safe in the car can feel overwhelming. Many parents have questions  about how to make sure their child is properly secured. What kind of car seat do you need? How do you install it? When do you need to change car seats? When will your child be ready for a seat belt? 

The law in Ontario says that the driver is responsible for making sure any person less than 16 years old is properly secured according to their weight, height and age.  

Check out the 4 stages below to see where your child fits.

Stage 1 - Rear-facing car seats
The law in Ontario says that you must have your baby in a rear-facing car seat from birth to at least 9 kg (20 lbs.). However, it is best to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Some rear-facing car seats are for children that weigh up to 20 kg (50 lbs.). It is okay for your child’s legs to touch the back of your vehicle's seat as long as your child is still below the weight and height limits of the child car seat.

How to install your rear-facing car seat

Always check your vehicle's manual and car seat's user guide for how to install your child's car seat. To ensure a proper recline, use the level indicator found on the car seat. Always check for movement at the belt path. Make sure the car seat does not move more than 2.5 cm (1") from side to side or from front to back.

How to buckle up your child

Make sure the shoulder harness straps are at or just below your baby's shoulders and that the chest clip is at armpit level. Ensure the straps are straight and do not twist or fold. Use the “Pinch Test” to ensure that the harness is properly secured. To do this, you need to pinch the harness vertically, at your child’s shoulders.  If you can pinch and hold the harness, then it needs to be tightened. 

For information on the positioning of the handle on your child's car seat, check your car seat's user guide or speak with the manufacturer. 

Safety Drives Us: Rear-facing Child Car Seat video in multiple languages
Stage 2 - Forward-facing car seats
The law in Ontario says that your child needs to be in a car seat until a minimum of 40 lbs. Keep in mind that it is best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible (until they reach the maximum height or weight outlined in the car seat manual). Once your child has outgrown the seat in the rear-facing position, you can turn the convertible infant/child car seat to forward-facing. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible (until they reach the maximum height or weight outlined in the car seat manual) before switching to a booster seat. Many forward-facing car seats can safely restrain a child up to 30 kg (65 lbs.).

How to install your forward-facing car seat

Always check your vehicle's manual and car seat's user guide for how to install your child car seat. Always check for movement at the belt path. Make sure the car seat does not move more than 2.5 cm (1") from side to side or front to back.

How to connect the tether strap 

If you have a forward-facing car seat, you must connect the tether strap to the tether anchor in your vehicle. You will find the tether strap at the top of the car seat. The strap keeps your child's car seat from moving forward in a collision. If your vehicle does not have a tether anchor, contact a dealership to have one put in.

How to buckle up your child

Make sure the shoulder harness straps are at or just above the child's shoulders and that the chest clip is at armpit level. Use the “Pinch Test” to ensure that the harness is properly secured. To do this, you need to pinch the harness vertically, at your child’s shoulders.  If you can pinch and hold the harness, then it needs to be tightened. 

Safety Drives Us: Forward-facing Child Car Seat video in multiple languages
Stage 3 - Booster seats
The law in Ontario says that your child needs to be a minimum of 40lbs to use a booster seat. It is best to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible (until they reach the maximum height or weight outlined in the car seat manual). Once in a booster, your child should remain in a booster seat until one of the following occurs.

Your child is:

  • 8 years of age, or
  • 36 kg (80 lbs.), or
  • 145 cm (4' 9") tall

If your child has met one of the above criteria, they may not be completely ready for a seatbelt. It is best to keep them in a booster seat until they reach the maximum height or weight outlined in the booster seat manual.  See the seat belt section below to determine whether your child is ready to be restrained without a booster seat.

Safety Drives Us: Booster Seat video in multiple languages
Stage 4 - Seat Belts
Seat belts are designed for older children and adults. Your child is ready for a seat belt ONLY when:
  • Your child's back is against the back of the vehicle's seat;
  • Your child's knees hang over the seat and feet are touching the floor;
  • The shoulder belt can fit across your child's shoulder, NOT on the neck or face; and
  • The lap belt fits snugly across your child's hip bones, NOT on the stomach.

If your child does not meet all the above, it is recommended that you continue to use a booster seat.

Seat Belt Safety Tips

  • If your child is under 13 years of age, they are safest in the back seat of the vehicle. Most vehicles have front seat air bags, and these can hurt your child if the bags inflate during a crash or sudden stop
  • Never put two children in the same seat belt
  • Never place the shoulder strap behind your child's back or tucked under the arm
  • Ensure that when your child is sitting, the shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and not on the neck or the arm
  • Ensure that the lap belt fits snugly across the hip bones and not across the stomach

Other Helpful Tips

  • Big snowsuits or winter clothing are not recommended for use with a car seat, as they can prevent the harness from being tightened properly.
  • Do not leave loose items in your vehicle because they will become projectiles in a collision and may cause injury to passengers.
  • Items that did not come with your child's car seat (after-market products) may not be safe to use.  For more information on after-market products, please visit Transport Canada.
  • Register your child's car seat with the manufacturer. They will notify you if there has been a recall on your child's car seat.
  • Always replace a car seat that is expired, torn, broken, discoloured or was in a vehicle during a collision.

Please note: In Ontario, if you do not properly secure your child in a seatbelt or in an appropriate child car seat as per weight, height and age requirements, the fine is up to $1,000.00 plus 2 demerit points on conviction.

Need Help?

Contact the Ottawa Safety Council at 613-238-1513  or email them at For more information on car seats visit the Ottawa Safety Council Car and Booster Seat Safety website.


The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario – Choosing a child car seat

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario - Child Car Seat Safety Video

The Right Seat | IWK Child Safety Link – Multilanguage fact sheets and videos on child car seat safety

The Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada


Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction . It involves either 2 or more body systems at the same time, or the respiratory system. Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction and is diagnosed by a doctor.

Without proper medical care, the reaction can get worse. It can cause death. Treatment is needed right away.

What causes anaphylaxis?

Your child may have an anaphylactic reaction if they swallow or is injected by something that they are allergic to. Touching or smelling the allergen can cause an allergic reaction, but anaphylaxis is rare in these cases.

The most common sources of allergens are:

  • Medications
  • Food and drinks: nuts, fish, eggs, milk
  • Insect bites or stings: bee and wasp stings
  • Latex: balloons, rubber gloves, some band aids

Preventing a reaction from happening in the first place is always the goal. We can all do our part to keep children with severe allergies safe at school.

What can I do as a parent?

  • Remember that most schools do not allow peanut butter and other peanut/tree nut products at school.
  • Find out from your child's teacher if there are any other foods to avoid in your child's lunch box and what they are.
  • Remind your child to never share food at school.
  • Remind your child to wash their hands well with soap and water before leaving for school.
  • Be careful of cross-contamination between a safe food and a food allergen. This can happen when your child comes to school without washing their hands after eating a nut butter sandwich. Cross-contamination can also happen when a knife is used in an allergen food then a safe food.
  • Remember that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not remove protein of any kind. This protein can be an allergen. It is important that both adults and children wash hands with soap and water.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

What are the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Think F.A.S.T (Face, Airway, Stomach, Total Body)

  • Face: itchiness, redness, swelling of the face and tongue
  • Airway: trouble breathing, swallowing or speaking
  • Stomach: stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Total body: hives, rash, itchiness, swelling, weakness, paleness, loss of consciousness

What to do if anaphylaxis occurs?

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately and ask for paramedics
  • Have the person lie down
  • If they have an auto-injector, (EpiPen®) help them by injecting it into their outer thigh
  • Place the person on their side- check their airway, breathing and circulation
  • Have someone at the door to meet the paramedic and direct them

For more information visit Food Allergy Canada. For more information visit the Ontario Ministry of Education for Sabrina's law in Ontario.

Substances (drugs), including cannabis and medication safety

Children love to touch, hold, climb and explore. It is important for your home to be a safe place for them to explore. Homes often contain dangerous or poisonous substances (drugs) within reach of a child. The leading cause of poisoning in children is eating medications.

Here are some tips childproof your home to keep harmful substances (drugs)  out of reach of children:

  • Keep track of all medicines or other substances (drugs) in your home.
  • Keep harmful substances (drugs) stored in its original packaging.
  • Keep harmful substances (drugs) stored in a locked place that is out of reach and out of sight of children (includes alcohol, prescription and non-prescription medicines).
  • Don't rely on packaging - child-resistant does not mean childproof.
  • Medicine isn’t candy; never tell your child that a medicine tastes like candy.
  • Keep important poison control numbers handy.
  • Keep visitors’ belongings out of your child's reach just as you do your own. Visitors may have unsafe and dangerous products with them.

Edible cannabis products often look like foods that are very appealing to children. Don’t rely on the packaging alone to keep your child safe, child resistant or childproof is not a guarantee. Keep edible cannabis products out of reach of children.

Second-hand cannabis smoke is harmful for everyone. It may result in illness in infants and young children, and can also affect their alertness, understanding and judgment. It is safest not to smoke cannabis in your home or around your child. To protect you and your children make your home and car smoke free. If you smoke, do it outside and ask family members and visitors to do the same.

For more information, visit second hand smoke.

If you or your child has accidentally consumed substances (drugs) or medication, contact the Ontario Poison Control Centre at 1-844-764-7669. 

Cannabis poisoning in babies and children is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of cannabis poisoning in children include:

  • Changes in mood such as confusion
  • Agitation or sleepiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Balance problems and difficulty breathing

Call 9-1-1 if your child is ill and/or has difficulty breathing.

Helmet Safety

Helmets are recommended for activities like skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, sledding, skating, skiing and snowboarding.

In Ontario, it is mandatory for anyone under the age of 18 to wear a certified bicycle helmet while riding a bicycle. You can learn more by visiting Ontario’s Bicycle Safety website.

Skaters 10 years and under must wear a CSA (Canadian Standards Association) certified hockey helmet while skating at all City of Ottawa public skating drop-in sessions and registered ice skating programs. Helmets are always recommended for any activity on ice.  Bicycle helmets are NOT recommended for skating.

What you need to know about helmets

Helmets reduce the risk of serious head injuries by absorbing force from a fall or a hit to the head. 

What are some helmet tips?

  • Parents set a good example by wearing their helmet
  • Do not place stickers on your helmet
  • Remember, anyone under the age of 18 years must wear a helmet when cycling - it's the law
  • If children switch activities, they should take off their helmet. If the helmet is left on while a child plays on a play structure or climbs, the helmet chinstrap can get caught and strangle the child

Most helmets will fit into one of the following categories:

  • Single impact: example- bicycle helmet. They are designed to protect against one impact. Must be replaced after a crash or hard hit to the head, even if you can't see any damage.
  • Multi impact: example- hockey helmet. They are designed to protect against more than one impact. Must be replaced when you see damage.
  • Multi Sport Helmet: does not mean that it is multi impact but that it is approved for more than one activity. Check the manufacturer’s label carefully to see which sports it is certified for. 

What to look for when buying a helmet:

  • Make sure that the helmet has been safety certified. There will be a certification sticker on the inside or outside of the helmet. The CSA Group has a standard for hockey helmets.
  • For recommendations on which type of helmet to wear for a specific sport or activity, the associated standards and more, visit Parachute Canada. It is also important to refer to the manufacturer’s owner’s manual for guidance about the intended use, fitting, care, and maintenance of a helmet.
  • Never buy a used helmet.
  • Buy a helmet that fits now and not one that a child has to grow into.

How to fit a bicycle helmet

Know the 2V1 rule to fit a bicycle helmet. Put the helmet on the head so it is level and so it is not tilting backwards or forwards. Then check the following:

cartoon showing Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrowcartoon showing V-shape straps around each earCartoon showing One finger between chin and fastened strap
  • Two fingers distance from helmet to eyebrow.
  • V-shape straps around each ear.
  • One finger between chin and fastened strap.

Make sure the helmet doesn't move. Move head up and down, and side to side. The helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug on the head.

How to fit a hockey helmet

cartoon child showing one finger distance from helmet to eyebrowcartoon child showing One finger between the chinstrap and chincartoon child showing helmet does not move

Put on the helmet so that it is not tilting forward or backward. Then check the following:

  • One finger between the chinstrap and chin.
  • One finger distance from helmet to the eyebrow.
  • Make sure the helmet doesn't move. Move head up and down, and side to side. The helmet should stay in place and feel comfortably snug on the head.

When should I replace a helmet?

The plastics of a helmet dry out and may become brittle over time. Many helmets can only take one impact before they must be replaced. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and replace a helmet:

  • After a crash or large impact.
  • When it does not fit anymore.
  • If the helmet has a crack or is dented.
  • When the straps are frayed, torn, or do not work.
  • Every five years. 
  • Hockey helmets are designed to protect against more than one impact. They must be replaced when they are damaged, cracked, have loose-fitting or missing liner pieces, or have had a severe blow.      

For more on choosing the right helmet, visit Parachute Canada.

Walking and Cycling Safety

Road safety is an important tool for your child to have as they begin to cycle, wheel and walk.

Tips for parents

  • Don't buy a bike that is too big for your child. If cost is an issue, consider buying one second hand instead. Make sure your child's feet can touch the ground when sitting on the bike seat. Another tip: it's a good idea to have bikes inspected by a bike mechanic before taking them out for the first time. 
  • Make sure your child always has a parent or guardian with them when learning to cycle.
  • Take them to places with few distractions and little traffic.
  • Your child should be able to focus on your words and direction in a safe and controlled environment.
  • A great place for kids to learn to ride is a flat grassy area at a local park. There's no traffic to worry about and lots of grass to cushion any falls.  
  • Be a role model! When cycling, wear your helmet and signal your turns. When walking or biking, always limit distractions and be encouraging.
  • Start out with small trips to school, grocery stores, and parks without the car.
  • Consider a cycling course in your community

Safety check

  • Don't buy a helmet that your child will grow into - buy one that fits them now! Parents can set a good example by wearing a helmet too. 
  • Identify safe routes with your child.
  • Encourage your child to wear bright colours and use reflective materials. In bad weather, visibility is even more important.
  • Eye contact with other road users is important. 
  • Pay attention to surroundings to make safe decisions when using the road. Help your child understand that distractions take their concentration away from the road. 
  • Review the rules of the road before cycling, walking or wheeling.
  • When walking, cross only at designated crossings such as pedestrian crossovers and intersections. Visit School Zone Traffic Safety for more tips about teaching your child to cross the road.
  • When cycling, help your child understand right-of-way and road signs. For more information, visit the City of Ottawa children and cycling page. 
  • Visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website for cycling safety laws.
  • Dress for the weather. Here are a few tips on protecting your child in cold weather in Ottawa.

Learn more about the benefits of walking and cycling to school here. The City of Ottawa also offers short and affordable cycling courses that can help everyone improve their skills.

Visit the City of Ottawa's Active Transportation page for bike maps and tips. Check out the Walking page for local walking and hiking resources.  Also visit this link for more information on bike repair stations.

Sun Safety

Safe fun in the sun

Outdoor activities are a great way to be active. It is important that you take care of your skin and your child's skin while outside so you can all enjoy activities safely. The sun's ultraviolet rays (UV) can't be seen or felt.

Young children have sensitive skin that puts them at risk for sunburns. While children with fair skin, light blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair and freckles, are more at risk; children with darker skin tones also need protection from UV rays.. As parents, we can help children learn how to be sun safe by making it fun and by being good role models.  The risk of skin cancer later in life is increased by:

  • Going outside in the sun unprotected (not using sunscreen or proper clothing).
  • 1 or more blistering sunburns during childhood or as a teenager.

Helping your children learn about sun protection means teaching them at an early age. Children learn best while having fun. Check your local bookstore or library for storybooks and activities that promote sun protection awareness.

What you can do to protect your child from the sun:

  • Limit the time in the sun when the UV Index is 3 or higher, usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., between April and September.
  • Clothing and accessories are best at blocking UV rays. Dress your children in long pants and long-sleeved shirts in tightly woven fabric. Dark or bright colors such as orange and red block more UV rays. 
  • Wear wide-brim hats to protect the face, ears and neck and close fitting/wrap-around sunglasses with UV 400 or 100% UV protection. Choose sunglasses for children and babies that are unbreakable.
  • Look for a shaded place for children to play and place a canopy or umbrella over a baby's stroller to give shade. 

For a quick and easy way to remember how to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun and still have fun- remember your Sun Safety ABC'S:

  • Seek shade by using a UV protective tent or pop-up shade shelter, umbrella or resting under a big tree. Keep babies under one year of age out of direct sunlight by using a canopy or umbrella over your baby's stroller to give shade.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, labelled "broad spectrum" and "water-resistant". Reapply if child is swimming, sweating or toweling off.
  • Cover up with a hat, sunglasses and clothing.
  • Say something. Tell others about sun safety. Signs of too much sun include having skin that gets hot and red. You may also feel tired and thirsty.


Ask your health care provider or pharmacist to help you choose the best sunscreen for your child. Don't forget to check the expiry date and replace sunscreen that is out-of-date.

  • Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, labelled "broad-spectrum" and "water-resistant".
  • Reapply sunscreen when needed (especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off).
  • Use a sunscreen lip balm. 
  • There are many sunscreens available including sunscreens for babies over 6 months, as well as people with sensitive skin. Before using sunscreen, test it on a small area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction.
  • Always follow the directions on the sunscreen container. It is important that sunscreen be applied correctly and generously for it to do its job.
  • Pay special attention to areas that are easy to miss. Think about the ears, nose, back of the neck, legs, top of feet and up to and under the edges of bathing suits.

Know your daily UV Index

  • Check your local radio, TV stations or online for the UV Index forecast in your area
  • When UV Index is 3 or higher, limit your child's time in the sun.

OPH recommends that residents buy and use an effective and safe sunscreen. Look for:

  • A product approved by Health Canada with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Health Product Number (NPN);
  • A "broad-spectrum" and "water-resistant" sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more;
  • An expiry date.               

If you would like to choose a sunscreen that has been laboratory tested by the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA), please visit their website for a list of approved sunscreens. Test results must prove that the product: 

  • has a UVB sun protection factor of at least 30;
  • contains a broad spectrum UVA block;
  • is non-comedogenic;
  • is non-irritating and hypo-allergenic.

Don't forget to do the Shadow Test. It's a simple way to help determine when it's time to seek shade. If the child's shadow is shorter than they are, the sun's rays are strong and they should seek shade or go inside. 


Keeping children safe during hot weather

Keep children safe during hot weather and limit the time they spend outdoors during the hottest part of the day.

Children are more at risk of dehydrating because they have a high metabolic rate, produce more heat, and are smaller. It is also more difficult for them to cool down.

Help children avoid dehydration

  • Breastfeeding according to child’s cues should be encouraged for all breastfed children.  If you are breastfeeding your child, remember to keep yourself hydrated so you can produce a sufficient amount of milk.
  • Encourage children to drink frequently. Offer small amounts water frequently.
  • Keep children close to watch for signs of thirst/hunger.
  • Avoid serving drinks with caffeine or large amounts of sugar.
  • Bring them into air-conditioned or cooler places like shopping malls, libraries, community centres, or a friend’s place.
  • Give them a cool bath or shower or cool them down with wet towels.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule any strenuous activity.
  • Make sure they are well rested.
  • Never leave a child in a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight. When outside air temperature is 23ºC/73ºF, the temperature inside a vehicle can be extremely dangerous – more than 50ºC/122ºF. 
  • Look twice before locking. Always keep cars locked while in garages or driveways to prevent children from inadvertently becoming trapped. The Canada Safety Council suggests making a habit of placing your cell phone, purse or wallet in the back seat — a strategy that requires you to turn around and check the back seat whenever you leave the vehicle.
  • Be alert for signs that your child is experiencing heat illness and needs to go inside. These include thirst, fatigue, leg or stomach cramps, and cool, moist skin, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion. Bring your child inside or into a cool, shady area, and offer frequent, small sips of water. Removing extra clothing and fanning can help your child cool down slowly. For more information visit the Canadian Pediatric Society website.

When children go outside

  • Dress them in light-coloured, loose-fitting, and lightweight clothing with a tight weave to cover their arms and legs.
  • Encourage children to keep out of direct sunlight. Have them rest frequently in the shade.
  • Teach them to take frequent breaks and to come indoors if they feel overheated.
  • Always use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, and reapply it at least every 2 hours. Don’t apply sunscreen to a child less than 6 months old. 
  • If they are swimming or playing in water make sure their sunscreen is water-resistant.
  • Choose a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Have water nearby.

Keep your home cool

  • If you have an air conditioner with a thermostat, keep it set to the highest setting that is comfortable (somewhere between 22oC/72oF and 26oC/79oF) which will reduce your energy costs and provide needed relief. If you are using a window air conditioner, cool only one room where you can for heat relief.
  • Prepare meals that don’t need to be cooked in your oven
  • Block the sun by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day
  • If safe, open your windows at night to  let cooler air onto your home

If your home is extremely hot

  • Take a break from the heat and spend a few hours with your child in a cool place. It could be a tree-shaded area, swimming facility, splash pad or an air-conditioned spot such as a shopping mall, grocery store or public library.
  • Bathe your child in a cool bath until your child feels refreshed. Always supervise your child in the bath.
  • If using a fan, keep it a safe distance from the child and aim the air flow in their direction.

Special considerations for childcare providers

  • Establish a policy and a plan to deal with extreme temperatures. Have hot weather backup plans like an indoor water day.
  • Monitor the weather in the summer months (for example, follow the Government of Canada’s humidex, smog, and hot weather alerts).
  • Ensure that staff are aware of the signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.
  • Maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
  • Offer regularly scheduled rest periods.
  • Maintain and role model sun safe policies.
  • Check regularly on babies and young children.
  • Ensure that children are well hydrated (let them drink frequently).
  • Monitor children in wheelchairs. The metal and vinyl equipment can become very warm.
  • Check pavement and playground structures. They can become very warm.

These sources may be helpful for additional information:

Protecting your Family from Mosquito and Tick Bites

Being active in nature is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Ottawa is home to many beautiful trails, wooded areas, and scenery. While enjoying the great outdoors, take steps to prevent tick and mosquito bites.  You can help by making this part of your family’s regular routine.


Ticks are most often found in wooded, shrubby, long-grassed, or leaf-littered areas providing shade and humidity and the strip immediately bordering such areas. Such tick habitat can be found throughout Ottawa’s geographic area.

What can I do to protect my family from tick bites?

You can practice simple steps to help minimize exposure to ticks. You can make these steps part of your regular routine, if you will be in areas suitable for ticks.

  • Before heading outside, apply sunscreen half an hour before so it can be absorbed into the skin. 
  • Once outside, apply a Canada approved insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin to exposed skin and clothing. Insect repellents containing DEET can be used safely when applied as directed and in the right concentration, depending on age. Visit the Health Canada website to find out which concentration of DEET is best for you and your children. (Sunscreen and insect repellant combination products are not recommended.)
  • Wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to cover exposed skin, and tuck your pants into your socks. It will be easier to spot a tick if you choose light coloured clothing.
  • Try to stay on the trails when hiking in the woods and avoid walking in long grass.
  • When you get home, do a tick check on yourself, your children and your pets. Pay careful attention around your toes, knees, groin, armpits and scalp. Try to make tick checks a fun, daily activity with your children so they will want to do one.
  • If you find a tick remove it as soon as possible.  The risk of getting Lyme disease increases with the length of time the tick remains attached.
    • Use fine-pointed tweezers
    • Grasp the tick's head as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly until the tick is removed.
    • Do not twist or rotate the tick. Do not use a match, lotion or anything else on the tick.
    • Wash the bite site with soap and water.
    • See your health care provider if:
      • the tick has been attached for 24 hours or more, or
      • you are unsure how long, or
      • the ticks body looks partially or fully swollen from feeding even if you think it may have been less than 24 hours
    • Monitor yourself:
      • All people bitten by a tick need to monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for 32 days, even if the doctor gave single dose of antibiotics to prevent onset of illness.
  • Here are some tips to help make your home environment less favourable to ticks:
    • Keep grass mowed
    • Remove brush and fallen leaves from edges of your property, especially if yard is bordered by woods or fields of tall grass
    • Clean up areas under and around bird feeders to reduce attracting small critters such as mice and voles that carry ticks
    • Discourage deer from entering your yard, as ticks also feed on these animals
    • Keep woodpile neat, dry, off the ground, and away from house
  • Teach your children about ticks. Encourage your children to let you know if they find one, so it can be safely removed. Ticks are very small and not easy to see – nymphs are poppy seed-sized and adults are sesame seed-sized. 

Summer Camps and Daycares:

  • If your child is attending a summer camp or daycare, speak with the organizer. Make sure that applying insect repellent and sunscreen before outdoor play is part of the regular routine.
  • Ask how the camp will address finding ticks on the campers. It is important that you are notified when your child will be going into a forested area so you can conduct a tick check at home.
  • To learn more about ticks and Lyme Disease, visit the Ottawa Public Health website.  


You can help protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites by following the tips below.

  • Apply an approved mosquito repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Insect repellents containing DEET can be used safely when applied as directed and in the right concentration, depending on age. Visit the Health Canada website to find out which concentration of DEET is best for you and your children.
  • Wear loose-fitting, tightly woven, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to limit exposed skin. Be aware that mosquitoes are attracted to darker colours and can still bite through thin, clingy clothing.
  • Try to avoid spending time outdoors between dusk and dawn since this is when mosquitoes are most active. Mosquitoes are also active during the day in or near shady and wooded areas.
  • Make sure all window and doors in your home have well-fitting screens that are in good condition.

Reduce Standing Water

Did you know that mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water (water that does not move or flow)? Mosquitoes need water to breed.

Check around your home to see if you have areas with standing water. This can be a fun activity with your little ones too!  Here are some frequent spots where you might find standing water:

  • Old tires or tire swings (tip: drill large holes in the bottom of the tire to drain water!)
  • Rainwater barrels (tip: ensure every opening is covered by insect screening)
  • Children’s toys
  • Flowerpots and their saucers
  • Wading pools
  • Patio furniture
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Anything that will hold even a little water for a week!

Tips for reducing standing water:

  • Clean eaves troughs regularly to prevent clogs that trap water.
  • Tip fishing boats and other gear onto their sides to drain.
  • Replace the water in bird baths at least once a week.

For more information on mosquitoes, visit the Ottawa Public Health website

Outdoor Play
Playground Safety

Safe Playground Fun

Playgrounds are a great place to have fun and be active with your child!

Did you know that playing outdoors has many benefits for your child? They include:

  • Improved mental and emotional health
  • Improved physical health and muscle strength
  • Better concentration and higher grades in school

Playing outside is important for your child’s development. It is also important to keep your child safe from preventable injuries through:

  • Active supervision for the age and development of the child
  • Following simple safety guidelines

Playground Safety Tips for Parents:

  • Stay close enough that you can take action if needed. Stay alert, pay close attention, and anticipate hazards.
  • Remember the 5 under 5 rule! If your child is 5 years old or younger, encourage play on equipment that is less than 5 feet in height.
  • Avoid distractions, such as reading and cell phone use.  
  • Check that the playground equipment is in good repair and that there are no broken parts.
  • It is more dangerous to fall on frozen ground. Actively supervise your child using playground equipment in the winter.
  • Have your child wear rubber soled shoes with tied laces.
  • Call your local park authority at 3-1-1 or your school office, if there are any hazards such as sharp objects or garbage in or around the playground area.
  • For more playground safety tips, go to Parachute Canada.

While at the playground encourage your child to:

  • Wait their turn
  • Slide down feet first
  • Use the equipment as it was meant to be used
  • Keep away from moving swings and the bottom of slides
  • Be aware that wet equipment can be extra slippery and pose a risk of falling. Active supervision is needed.
  • Walk away from bullying and unsafe situations
  • Before using the playground, remove helmets, scarves, drawstrings and cords
  • Keep bikes and bags away from equipment and play area to prevent tripping

Backyard Play Structures

Backyard play structures should meet the CSA Group’s Canadian Playground Safety Standards. Some of the standards are:

  • Surface area around playground equipment should be deep with a soft surface such as:
    • sand
    • pea gravel
    • mulch
    • rubber chips.
  • Surface depth for children 5 years old and younger should be 15 cm (6 inches) and 30 cm (12 inches) for older children.
  • Openings in the equipment should be less than 9 cm (3.5 inches) or greater than 22.5 cm (9 inches). This is to prevent a child’s head from getting stuck.

For more information on playground equipment standards, go to CSA Group or call 1-800-463-6727.

It is important to know that backyard trampolines can cause serious injuries. These injuries can happen even when adults are supervising and with the use of safety nets.  The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends “trampolines should not be used as play equipment.”  For more information go to Canadian Paediatric Society's Caring for Kids.

Remember, backyard kiddy pools are a potential hazard for drownings.  Active supervision of your child and emptying the kiddy pool after use will help keep your child safe.  For information on water safety, go to Parenting in Ottawa.

Check Ottawa Parks for a list of playgrounds in your neighbourhood.  

Unstructured/Risky Play

Did you know that age-appropriate risks in play are healthy for good childhood development? It’s good not only for their physical health but their emotional and social health too. It can help them learn and develop independence, creativity and risk management skills while being physically active.

What is risky play?

Risky play is play that is exciting and thrilling and where the child doesn’t know what the outcome will be. It can include the possibility of physical injury. Risky play is different for different children. It also changes as your child develops and gains different experiences.

There are several different types of risky play including:

  • Play at height (e.g.: climbing, jumping)
  • Play at speed (e.g.: bicycling at high speed, running)
  • Play involving dangerous elements (e.g.: water)
  • Rough and tumble play (e.g.: play fighting)
  • Play involving impacts (e.g.: crashing into something)

It’s important to note that risks and hazards are different. A hazard is when a child is not able to recognize the danger or able to manage it (e.g.: broken railing, slide not secured properly). A risk is a situation where the child can recognize a challenge and decide what action to take. 

What can you do as parents?

You are the best judge of your child’s abilities to make decisions on what activities they can do. Here are some tips for you.

  • Provide the safe spaces and emotional support for risky play
  • Make sure there is time in the child’s schedule for free play
  • Watch your child play. This can give you a better understanding of what your child can do.
  • Consider the language you use (e.g.: be careful, slow down, not too high). Repeated cautions can cause fear.
  • Practise pausing for about 15-30 seconds before intervening. The length of the pause will depend on the child, the activity, and the situation.
  • Consider asking questions to increase your child’s awareness of their current situation as a first step when intervening. Examples of questions include: “How are you feeling?”, “How will you get down?”, and “Do you feel stable there?”.
Water Safety

Did you know that drowning can occur in as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water? According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, drowning is one of the leading causes of injury related death in Canada for children less than five years of age.

General Safety

To keep your kids safe around water, follow these tips:

  • Your child should always be within arms' reach of an adult when they are in or around water. This includes pools, bathtubs, bodies of water, and other water sources. They should never be alone, even for a moment.
  • Your child should wear properly fitted lifejackets or personal flotation devices in and around water.
  • Your baby should be held by an adult if they cannot yet sit without support.
  • Stay sober. Do not use alcohol, cannabis or drugs when swimming or supervising others in the water.
  • Swimming lessons are great for your child but alone, they will not protect or prevent your child from drowning.
  • Know what to do in an emergency, including CPR and calling 9-1-1.

Backyard Pools

According to Parachute, nearly half of all child drownings occur in backyard swimming pools. Follow these tips to help ensure pool safety:

  • Your child must be supervised by an adult at all times.
  • Have safety equipment nearby, such as a non-metal reaching pole, a throwing line with buoyant aid, a first aid kit and a phone.
  • Ottawa Public Health recommends installing four-sided fencing to ensure access to pool is completely separate from the house, preventing direct access from a child.
  • Bring everything you need such as drinks, snacks, sunscreen, toys, and towels, before allowing your child into the pool.
  • Use signs to show deep and shallow ends to avoid injuries that could occur from diving in the shallow end.
  • Store chemicals properly. All chemicals, including chlorine, should be out of your child's reach.


All pool owners in the City of Ottawa must have pool enclosure gates that are self-closing, self-latching and locked at all times, except when the pool area is in use. See Pool Enclosure By-law (No.2013-39) for more information.  


OPH Water Safety – fact sheets

Winter Water Safety
Ottawa winters are becoming shorter and warmer due to climate change. Did you know that the ice on a river or lake must be 6 inches thick to support just one person? It needs to be a lot thicker to support more people or a vehicle. Here are some tips to keep you and others safe around ice this winter:
  • If you are not sure if the ice is safe, stay off the ice and choose an indoor/outdoor rink to skate. More information at
  • All ice on rivers, lakes or streams can be risky.
  • Check the ice conditions:
    • Clear blue ice is strong and the safest
    • White ice is half as strong and can cover up dangers
    • Grey ice is unsafe, it will not support much weight
  • Many things affect the thickness of ice, including:
    • salt from roads
    • currents and rocks or trees below the surface
    • changing temperatures
  • Monitor the weather. Consistent temperatures below freezing are needed for natural bodies of water to freeze.
  • Wear a life jacket, it buys you time if you fall through the ice.
  • Avoid stormwater management ponds- ice on these ponds is unstable and not safe for recreational activities.
  • Don’t go out onto ice alone or at night.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash when near water (rivers, streams or lakes).
  • Learn about what you can do if you or someone you are with falls through the ice. More information at
  • Wear a hockey helmet when on the ice to protect your brain.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

Contact Us