With winter now settling in, the province is urging people to be prepared well before heading into B.C.’s backcountry. 

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) president Paul Berry says his team has definitely seen a big jump in call volumes, even through the pandemic.

Since April, GSAR crews across the province have been deployed on almost 1,600 missions. That’s 300 more when compared to the same period the two years prior.

“People are getting stuck or lost, and we’re finding they’re unprepared for the elements or haven’t familiarized themselves with their route,” says Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

He says this can be dangerous, not only for the people who are in distress but also for the crews sent out to help.

BC AdventureSmart is offering some tips on how to remain safe when heading outdoors during the pandemic: Remember to always plan ahead, train, and pack the essentials.

And, with COVID a factor, BC Search and Rescue Association president Chris Kelly adds that people should be well aware of the additional risk.

“The risk is not only being unprepared for the outdoors,” he says, “but also exposing our professional volunteers to COVID-19 during callouts. Our members risk life and limb to keep people safe, and that risk is compounded by the pandemic.”

While it’s important to plan ahead and prepare before heading into the backcountry, it’s equally important to call for help when in need. If lost, stranded or hurt in the outdoors, you’re reminded to alert the authorities right away.