The countdown is almost over for the long-awaited 150th Canada Day celebrations and excitement is in the air. Townships, cities and organizations are getting ready to host the expected influx of people ready to party for Canada. But at the same time, every day on my morning drive to work the radio announcers remind their listeners that security will be vigilant and unmissable.

This is, of course, for the larger cities like Montreal and Ottawa. The latter of which has called in the cavalry with almost every RCMP, Ottawa OPP and Ottawa OPP Intelligence officers expected to be working. Which makes sense since Parliament Hill is expecting hundreds of thousands of people. Add another thousand since the announcement that Bono and The Edge will be there to perform one song.

Now while I’d like to believe our Canadian stereotypical ways of “niceness” will outweigh the potential for the bad, with so many people in one place I think it’s wise to remember to protect ourselves.

So a few things to consider. When you’re walking through a big crowd and have a backpack, wear it on your front, even if you look silly. Or if you’re in a group then have those wearing packs walk in front and non-pack wearers following closely behind.

Keep wallets in secure locations or pick up an anti-theft wallet that straps under your clothing. It doesn’t need to be fancy, a few stores sell simple ones for less than $10. Keep some cash in easy-to-reach pockets, preferably zipped or buttoned, but cards, IDs and the rest of your money should be secured.

An article I read the other day said pickpockets will put an empty wallet on the ground and then watch from nearby as your natural reaction will be to feel for your own. This helps them know just where to reach, so be vigilant.

With the heightened security don’t be alarmed if asked for identification or for your bags to be checked. Checkpoints are going to be set up around Parliament and pat downs will be administered for anyone wishing to enter.

On top of that, city officials have said it is entirely possible that people will be turned away from the Hill if it becomes over crowded. And based on projected attendees I’d say that is likely.

Despite the crowds and possibly heat, keep a level head, stay hydrated and have fun. As for some of our local celebrations, regardless of the size of the event, stay safe and party responsibly.

If you are having some fun with friends and hope to set of your own fireworks, read up on the safety instructions before using them and make sure to check out your township’s by-laws. Light one firework at a time, make sure the end is in a sturdy piece of land and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Above all, enjoy Canada’s big day no matter where you are! Happy Birthday Canada!
Kalynn Sawyer Helmer