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Posted: February 21, 2018

Backcountry recreation: making safety the priority

Letter to the Editor

The seemingly endless list of backcountry recreational opportunities is part of what makes British Columbia such an incredible place to live, work and play. This past long weekend, good weather and sunny skies drew many British Columbians outdoors.

However, the risks in the backcountry at this time of year are high, and search and rescue volunteers have been kept busy. The Feb. 10-12 weekend, search and rescue teams responded to 28 incidents throughout province. Volunteers rescued climbers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and a skier. Unfortunately, treacherous snow conditions also resulted in one fatality. This is a reminder that while the backcountry can be lovely, it can be lethal.

When planning to spend time outdoors, it is critical that enthusiasts make safety a top priority.

Take the conditions into account, and be mindful of safety warnings, including those issued by Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada.

Inform a friend, a neighbour or a loved one about where you are going and when you expect to return. Pack essentials – extra water, layers of clothing, a signaling device, a shelter and something to start a fire should you be caught overnight. If you become lost, signal for help and stay in one place.

Unprepared hikers risk both their own lives and the lives of the volunteers and first responders tasked with search and rescue.

Planning ahead and taking the necessary precautions will help ensure that you return home safely.

On behalf of all British Columbians, I would like to extend my gratitude to the more than 2,500 search and rescue volunteers in B.C. that routinely risk their own lives to save ours.

Mike Farnworth,

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness

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