Staying Safe

People can be nervous about being in the woods – especially people new to Canada or the Region.

Lucky us! – We don’t have large predators, there are no poisonous snakes, and the area has very low rates of violent crime.

It’s very easy to stay safe if you take a few basic precautions. The web-links here give information from reputable sources with the most helpful guidelines.

The Canadian Red Cross website and others have advice on the topics below.

  • Heat – Stay hydrated. Carry drinking water on longer outings in summer.
  • Sun – Apply a sunscreen product before you go out, especially in summer.
  • Cold – Dress warm in winter. Be especially mindful for those who are very young or old.
  • Insects – Use an insect repellent in natural areas from mid-May to first frost, especially round your ankles.
  • Ticks – Don’t let the fear of ticks hold you back from hiking and camping. Read Ontario Nuture’s blog on staying tick-free.
  • Ice – Walking on ice can be hazardous. Make sure that ice is safe before venturing across it: 20cm is the minimum ice thickness.
  • Biking – Make sure that you wear a helmet! Keep your machine well-tuned and safe. Read Safe Cycling: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling.
  • Poison Ivy – Learn to recognize it and avoid its effects here.
  • Giant Hogweed is another plant that you should not touch. It can cause severe medical problems. Recognise it and learn how to treat somebody exposed to it here.
  • Hiking – Use the Grand Valley Trails Association guide.
  • Rabies – Avoid contact with wild mammals, especially if they are unusually tame or agitated. Rabid animals are rare, but skunks, foxes and raccoons are most often involved. See the Region of Waterloo’s guide.
  • Coyotes – are common in Waterloo Region. They are not normally problematical except perhaps if you are walking a dog. See this guide.
  • Lightning – See the Grand River Trails Association guide.