Photo of search and rescue team. (Supplied by Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue)
BC AdventureSmart is sounding the alarm after an extremely busy period for search and rescue volunteers.
Across the province, there’s been a 35 percent spike in search and rescue incidents in the first week of May compared to the same time last year.
This comes despite a 50 percent decrease in the number of SAR incidents two weeks before Easter.
With the long weekend nearly upon us, executive director Sandra Riches is urging you to be prepared if you plan on exploring the great outdoors.
“Without the preparation, there can be some incidents that do happen, but our main focus, here, is we want to encourage you to be safe outdoors and follow our three t’s,” Riches said.
“We want you to trip plan, we’ve made that really easy, we have an AdventureSmart trip plan app. We want you to have the right training – physical and mental well being can get you through your activity smoothly, successfully and better, even if you do get tired or something goes wrong – and take essentials with you, every single time.”
Riches said it doesn’t matter if it’s an afternoon bike ride or something a little more ambitious, you have to bring essentials with you and they have to be season-and-sport specific.
“So my pack for mountain biking is different from my pack for snowmobiling in the backcountry in Pemberton,” she said.
“We have a list of all those essentials on our website at adventuresmart.ca.”
She said the pandemic is bringing more people outside, trying new things.
“We’re a very active province and we’re used to being outdoors, front country, backcountry, all seasons… and us now being asked to stay at home recreate locally which is great, everyone’s still a bit antsy to get out there, and have some energy to do so,” Riches said. “So I’d like to think everyone is recreating as close to home as possible. I also believe there are a few people who are maybe trying new activities.”
AdventureSmart said following these steps will help cut down on SAR calls.
BE KIND – be kind to other communities and recreate in your own community. (this helps SAR as well).
BE CALM – be calm on the trails, create space for other users.
BE SAFE – be safe by being prepared for your activities, recreate locally, wear PPE and choose low-risk activities.
There are roughly 2,500 registered search and rescue volunteers throughout the province who are organized into groups.