Avalanche warnings have been issued in parts of B.C. this month, leading the provincial government to publish safety reminders for people travelling in the backcountry.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has released a series of tips to better prepare those travelling through the B.C. wilderness.
- Never travel alone
- Plan ahead: Make a trip plan, give a copy to family or friends, and stick to that plan.
- The elements change so prepare appropriately. Packing essentials like extra water, layers of clothing, a shelter and a fire making kit can keep one alive through the night.
- Stay in bounds and on marked trails. If lost, stay put and wait for help. Moving downhill won’t necessarily help you find the proper trail; it can lead to dangerous terrain.
- Awareness is key: Keep in mind when the sun is setting, how far you’ve gone, and when to turn back to avoid hiking in the dark. That being said, keep a flashlight, just in case.
- If lost (even at night), searchers will be aided in finding you through a signaling device like a whistle, or a communication or navigation device like a charged cell phone, compass and/or GPS unit.
- A shovel, probe, and transceiver must be part of every team member’s kit. Everyone in a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. More information on safety equipment is available at: www.avalanche.ca/gear
- Real-time, location-specific information on conditions can be found on the Mountain Information Network at: https://www.avalanche.ca/mountain-information-network
- For staying warm and avoiding hypothermia, remember COLD:
* Cover: Wear a scarf, hat or toque, mittens or gloves, or even a balaclava.
* Overexertion: Avoid activities that produce a lot of sweat. Wet clothing and cold weather quickly reduce one’s body heat.
* Layers: Wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing from wool or silk. Tightly woven, water-repellent outer clothing is best for wind protection.
* Dry: Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible to stay warm. Keep hands and feet dry, as it’s easy for snow to get into mittens and boots.
The ministry is also reminding travellers to watch out for signs of hypothermia. The signs are constant shivering, confusion, poor decision-making (such as trying to remove warm clothes), drowsiness and shallow breathing.