About one in 10 people in need of search and rescue in the British Columbia wilderness last year didn’t come back alive, according to the provincial government.
From April 2009 to March 2010, search and rescue organizations in B.C. responded to roughly 1,400 rescue requests, and in 127 situations they came back empty-handed or with a dead body.
Among those cases, 85 people were found dead and 42 people were never found, the office of the Public Safety and Solicitor General said.
With summer fast approaching, Sandra Ferguson with AdventureSmart – which hosts programs on safe outdoor adventure travel – said the biggest mistake people make is to think an accident, like getting hurt or lost, won’t happen to them.
She said Vancouverites often get a false sense of security when in the wilderness close to home, assuming that proximity to an urban environment means they will easily get found if something happens.
“We live in a populated area and yet there is quick and easy access to the back country,” Ferguson said. “You can be on the backside of Mount Seymour and you’re in backcountry. And people can get caught up in that.”
Ferguson said even short outings close to home require preparation and people should always check weather conditions, know the terrain and difficulty, and tell someone where they are going and when they will return.
“It could be the difference between finding you within a few hours or a couple of days,” she said.
AdventureSmart has a printable trip-planning guide in five languages it recommends filling out and leaving with friends and family, and in your car.
It’s also smart, she added, to be prepared to spend more time outdoors than expected – even overnight – by packing extra clothing and food.