A CH-149 Cormorant military helicopter used in air and sea rescues. (Black Press File Photo)

A CH-149 Cormorant military helicopter used in air and sea rescues. (Black Press File Photo)

Province urges backcountry adventurers to stay safe this weekend

Search and rescue responded to 28 incidents last Family Day weekend

The province is reminding people to stay safe outdoors over the long weekend.

According to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, search and rescue volunteers responded to 28 incidents last year on Family Day weekend. The ministry says planning can help reduce the number of incidents.

“Over the past few weeks, search and rescue volunteers throughout the province have been deployed to help British Columbians who have run into trouble in the wilderness,” a release from the ministry reads.

The ministry says it is critical to be prepared when heading out in the backcountry, especially given the current elevated avalanche risk in some areas of B.C.

READ MORE: Fatalities take their toll on volunteers as Search and Rescue calls climb

It is also important to monitor safety warnings including those from Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada.

The ministry says to make sure travellers warn someone outside of their group about their plans as well as when they expect to return.

“Do not travel alone, and pack as if you might need to spend the night outdoors, even if that is not the plan,” the release says.

The ministry recommends packing items like extra water, extra layers of clothing, a signalling device like a whistle, a compass, a satellite GPS messenger or fully charged cell phone with a portable power bank charger, a flashlight, a shelter and something to start a fire.

READ MORE: 2018 a busy year for Peninsula Search and Rescue team

When outdoors, the ministry says to not venture out of bounds or off marked trails, be aware of how far you have gone and when you need to turn back, be aware of the time for sunset, take conditions into account and plan appropriately.

“There are more than 2,500 SAR volunteers in British Columbia who brave the elements to save others,” the release says. “When people are unprepared, it can put SAR teams at risk as well.”

The BC Search and Rescue Association says seven in 10 Canadians participate in wilderness activities and four of those seven self-report poor health, but still participate in the activities. According to the organization, 44 per cent of outdoor activities are hiking and backpacking.

AdventureSmart along with Canada’s national volunteer SAR agency launched a trip planning app earlier this month that helps people create a structured trip plan that they can send to a friend. The app is called the AdventureSmart Trip Planning App.


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