Always leave information on where you are going with a responsible friend or family member, even if you are going for a short hike. No one plans on getting hurt, but it can happen on even the easiest of trails. Sharing your trip information is extremely important and can help search and rescue locate you faster.
If cell service is available, it's a good idea for all backcountry recreationists to take "trailhead selfies" and post them publicly or share the information with the contact chosen to receive the trip plan. Make sure to update your contact(s) with any plan changes during the trip. This will allow search and rescue crews to find you faster if you get lost or injured.
North Peace Search and Rescue has Adventure Smart presenters! We are currently able to present the following programs:
Hug a Tree and Survive
This presentation is aimed at children in Grades K-5. It teaches children how not to become lost in the woods, and what to do if they should become lost.
This presentation is aimed at people aged 12-99+. It focuses on Trip Planning, Training and Taking the Essentials. It includes information on how to alert the Search and Rescue system and focuses on survivability pending rescue.
This presentation is designed for youth and adults who want to paddle, whether it is using stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or canoes. Topics include trip planning, training and taking the essentials for water based activities. Segments on moving water and coastal water can be added to the presentation depending on location.
If you would like us to come to your school or present to your group, please contact us or go to AdventureSmart's website and request a presentation. Presentation times range from 30 minutes to two hours. Most of the SAR teams in Northeastern BC now have AdventureSmart presenters, so no matter where you live there should be a presenter close to you!
Winter In THE Backcountry
During the winter it is important to take some additional equipment, above and beyond the 10 essentials, into the backcountry if you are snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.
Avalanche Skills Training 1 Course
We highly recommend taking an AST1 course before starting your adventures in the backcountry. The course is two days long and includes information on identifying avalanche conditions and proper use of rescue equipment. Face it, having the gear is only half the solution, knowing how to use it effectively can be the difference between life and death. Practicing with your party members is also very important.
Check www.avalanche.ca for avalanche conditions and AST1 courses being held in your area.
All party members must wear a transceiver. Transceivers must be tested and then set to send mode at the trailhead. If a member of the party is caught in an avalanche, the other members can switch their transceivers to receive mode and use it to get an approximate location of the party member. It's important to practice with the beacons. Each brand has their own subtle differences, but modern transceivers are all interoperable.
Once you've narrowed down the area of the member who is buried, a probe is used to pinpoint the members location, orientation and depth in the snow.
Once the probe has been used to pinpoint the party member's location, an avalanche shovel is used to dig them out. It is important to buy a proper shovel, cheaper shovels not meant for avalanche rescue are made out of softer materials (weaker alloys / plastics) and will break in the extremely hard snow pack created in an avalanche.
Avalanche Airbag / Avalung
Avalanche airbags allow the user to deploy an airbag around their upper body to help keep them afloat in an avalanche. Avalungs are used for situations where breathing may become compromised due to powder snow flying up in your face while traveling. It can also keep you alive longer if you are caught and buried in an avalanche. It has breathing system that expels CO2 away from the user and brings O2 in from the surrounding snowpack.
Don't forget your helmet. It can save you from a tree strike or many other accidents!
Hug-a-Tree and Survive
Hug-a-Tree and Survive is an AdventureSmart program that helps lost children survive in the woods. This presentation is aimed at children in Grades K-5. It teaches children how not to become lost in the woods, and what to do if they should become lost.
There are four simple rules that are core to Hug-a-Tree presentations:
Tell an adult where you are going.
If you are lost, “Hug-A-Tree” and stay put.
Keep warm and dry.
Help searchers find you by answering their calls.
The Hug-a-Tree program includes:
Presentation by two SAR members
Large orange garbage bag
If you would like NPSAR to present this program at your school or group please contact us to setup a date.
10 Equipment Essentials
Always take the essentials (additional items may be required depending on activity):
Fire making kit
Signalling device (i.e. whistle)
Extra food and water
Navigation / Communication devices
First aid kit
Pocket knife / Axe
Leave a Trip Plan with responsible party, family member or friend.
Take equipment specific to hiking:
Comfortable, warm clothing
A second layer for warmth on colder days
Wool socks plus extras
Small backpack/water system
Moleskin for blisters
Extras for overnights:
Proper backpack with good support
Tent or Tarp
Sleeping bag and pad
Stove and fuel
Food/Scented items bag
Gear repair kit
More Details from Adventure Smart
Flashlight, spare batteries and bulb
A large number of unplanned overnights could be prevented by carrying a flashlight or headlamp. Often, someone who requires rescue did not start out lost, but simply ran out of daylight and was unable to get back to their car or the trailhead. Once it gets dark, the chances of getting lost are greater. Although we all have some night vision, we are much more vulnerable after dark. Without a source of light, moving at night can be dangerous.
Fire-making kit – waterproof matches/ lighter, fire starter/candle
This can be vital to staying warm enough outdoors during a change in the weather, an injury, or an unplanned overnight. Fire can be used for:
Providing essential warmth
Melting snow or boiling unsafe water
Keeping animals away
As well, fire can provide an important boost to the morale. The survival benefits of fire are more than just physical. It is important to practice with fire-making items, and not to underestimate the skill necessary to start a fire, especially in wet weather.
Signaling device – whistle or mirror
A whistle or a signaling mirror can increase your chances of being heard or seen. It takes much less energy to blow a whistle than it does to yell, and the sound carries farther. A signaling mirror is the device that is responsible for more Search and Rescue subject sightings by aircraft than any other type of signal. In actual rescues, a signalling mirror has been spotted from a rescue plane over five miles distant.
Extra food and water (1 litre/person)
Sometimes a trip can last much longer than anticipated, and having extra food and water can make the difference between an extended stay and a survival situation. Outdoor activities require energy, and having extra food can give us the boost we need to get out of an unplanned situation. Water is even more important, and is needed by the body even more than food.
Under "normal" circumstances, a person can survive for only:
3 minutes without air
3 days without water
3 weeks without food
Water is a more pressing need than food. A loss of 10% of total body fluid will cause extensive disruption of bodily functions; a loss of 20% usually results in death.
Extra clothing (rain, wind, water protection and toque)
The importance of bringing extra clothing cannot be underestimated, and yet often people have not brought enough clothing to keep them warm in changing conditions. Even in summer, temperatures can vary dramatically depending on the terrain.
People often misjudge the conditions they will encounter because they only look at the weather they see before them. Hypothermia is a serious risk if you do not prepare to survive unexpected deterioration of the weather.
Carry maps and a compass at minimum. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, cellular phone, satellite phone, and handheld radio—all with fully charged batteries—are also valuable tools. Know how to use these items, but don't over-rely on them.
First aid kit—know how to use it
Outdoor travelers are well advised to take a first aid course. There is no "911" in the wilderness, and self-reliance is important. Courses that teach wilderness first aid teach this self-reliance when far from help.
Always bring a orange tarp or blanket. These can also be used as signalling devices. A tarp can be very useful in creating a makeshift shelter to keep a person dry. It may be the difference between getting hypothermia or not.
A knife is an important survival tool, and can be used to help in shelter building, firewood collecting and a number of other things.
Sun protection (glasses, sunscreen, hat)
Sun protection includes glasses, sunscreen, and a hat. Sun exposure can lead to hyperthermia, dehydration, and burns. In bright environments like snowfields, it can also lead to snow blindness. These conditions can be painful, dangerous and debilitating.