March long weekend is a popular time for British Columbians to spend outdoors with friends and family, exploring the vast opportunities that exist in B.C.’s backcountry and trails. A new social media campaign is focused on helping families be fully informed, and prepared for potential risks, so they have fun and return home safely.
The preparedness campaign targets hikers, snowmobilers, and backcountry skiers in B.C. with links to avalanche forecasts and travel advice offered by Avalanche Canada and AdventureSmart. Designed to support safety awareness and action, it provides information on how to be prepared – including planning a route, telling someone where you are going, knowing the terrain and checking weather conditions.
The campaign is a reminder that it is up to individuals to survive outside, reinforcing why it’s so important to plan ahead, know the terrain, and to take the proper gear (transceiver, probe, and shovel). This won’t eliminate the risk, but it will increase the chances for returning home safely.
Tragically, there have been 13 avalanche related deaths in B.C. this year. Twelve of them were snowmobilers. Four were killed within 48 hours on March 13 and 14. It’s important to realize that 90% of all avalanche fatalities are triggered by those involved. B.C.’s great outdoors has much to offer during the winter months, but that beauty can have a darker side. Make sure you get the necessary safety gear and skills, and practice what you learn.
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness –
“The wilderness and outdoors is a natural draw for British Columbians and tourists that come to visit and play in the B.C. backcountry. This long weekend provides an opportunity for many of us to enjoy and explore the trails, slopes, and mountains that make B.C. beautiful, but it is critically important to keep safety top of mind before venturing out. Many backcountry and avalanche emergencies can be avoided by taking proper precautions like noting the avalanche forecast and weather conditions, taking certified training and the proper safety and survival gear, as well as travelling with others and letting others know your travel plans before leaving home.”
Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner –
“The BC Coroners Service is encouraging all those going out into the backcountry to put safety first. Whether they’re on skis, snowboards or snowmobiles, those heading into the backcountry must take special care to ensure their own safety and that of others. It is essential that people know how to manage the inherent risks of backcountry activities. Pay attention to warnings and cautions, have avalanche training, and carry essential avalanche safety equipment, including transceivers, shovels and probes. The majority of deaths in the backcountry are preventable with the exercise of care and caution.”
Gilles Valade, executive director, Avalanche Canada –
“March is the worst month for avalanche fatalities. The warmer temperatures, and bright sun at this time of year, tend to have a destabilizing effect on the snowpack that is still winter-like, with many layers. This creates conditions ripe for natural and human triggered avalanches. These same sunny, warm days, also affect people’s risk perception. “Blue-sky syndrome” can cause people to underestimate risk, which can lead to tragic results.”
- 90% of all avalanche fatalities are triggered by those involved.
- In B.C., 13 people have died in avalanches this year, 12 of them were snowmobilers. Four were killed within 48 hours on March 13 and 14.
- Between January 1, 1996, and March 17, 2014, there were 192 avalanche-related deaths in B.C., an average of 10 deaths each year. (Source: BC Coroners Services Statistics)
Start by bookmarking these trusted channels:
- @PreparedBC for preparedness information
- @avalancheca Canada’s national public avalanche safety people
- @AdventureSmart Programs to educate outdoors enthusiasts
Avalanche Canada: http://www.avalanche.ca
Parks Canada Mountain Safety Program: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/mtn/securiteenmontagne-mountainsafety/hiver-winter.aspx
Mountain weather forecasts: http://avalanche.ca/weather
BC Coroner fact sheet on avalanche deaths: http://ow.ly/ZPrgr
PreparedBC – Know the Risks: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks