Hiking & Outdoor Safety Tips

Exploring Okanagan Nature & Wilderness Safely

If you're planning on exploring, keep in mind some outdoor safety tips for hiking and exploring the Okanagan Valley parks, back country, and wilderness trails.

The Okanagan British Columbia provides an amazing mozaic of exceptional places to have fun and enjoy nature through activities such as kayaking, mountain climbing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, boating, fishing, ATV adventures, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and exploring.

In this area we are sharing habitat with many wild animals that can sometimes be dangerous.

Wildlife awareness, hiking safety and knowing what to do if you get lost will help protect you, your family, the environment and our beautiful wildlife.

3 Essential Outdoor Safety Tips Before You Go Exploring

okanagan back country hiking trails

Preparing for the unexpected is the most basic and essential element of backcountry trip planning. Preparing and planning includes...

  • bringing the necessary outdoor survival essentials
  • always checking the weather forecast before you go
  • telling someone your plans - where you're going and when you're expected back.

No one ever expects to get into trouble outdoors. But, a sudden turn in the weather, an unexpected injury or equipment failure, a mistake in judgment, an unfavorable encounter with dangerous wildlife, getting lost, sudden illness or sudden nightfall can quickly turn any outdoor adventures into a crisis.

If you or your group are reported missing, and are unable to call for help yourselves, search and rescue professionals will have a much easier time finding you if you've completed a trip plan and left it with a friend.

In 2006/2007 Search and Rescue volunteers in BC responded to 989 incidents involving 1360 missing (lost) or injured persons. 2500 unpaid volunteers donated over 100,000 hours of their time on callouts.

Outdoor Safety Tips - Hiking Safety

Bears and cougars aren't just in the back country. Our parks and cities encroach on their natural habitat. Ensure you know what to do if you meet dangerous wildlife.

Please keep in mind these simple outdoor safety tips for hiking safely whether you're in the back country, BC Provincial Parks, or other hiking trails:

okanagan backcountry outdoor safety hiking safety
safety checkmark Never ever hike alone, groups offer more protection.

safety checkmark Comfortable and sturdy footwear is a necessity, hiking boots give you more protection than do running shoes, this is especially true if your trek takes you in the mountains and wilderness.

safety checkmark Wear comfortable woolen or cotton socks and always carry rain gear.

safety checkmark Carry a walking stick - for protection.

safety checkmark Know your limits. Over extending yourself, or hiking in rugged or unfamiliar areas beyond your skill level can lead to injury and other crises.

safety checkmark Make some noise. Wildlife needs to know you are in the area to prevent unexpected surprise and a potential attack. Make more noise around rivers and streams where the sound of water may muffle your own noise.

safety checkmark Be prepared with proper hiking and back country gear. (See below for a list of items)

Outdoor Safety Tips - Wilderness Survival Tips for Kids

The hug a tree program in a well known North American program that originated in California, after a nine-year-old boy became lost and tragically died in the wilderness.

Though essentially geared to teach kids to survive in the woods if they get lost, the principles of these outdoor safety tips can be followed by any and all.

hug a tree hiking safety tips If You Get Lost Hug A Tree

Tell your parents where you are going and when you expect to return. Stay on well-marked trails and always hike with a buddy. You can help each other, knowing these hiking and outdoor safety tips, should you get lost!

Wear brightly coloured, warm clothing and bring a hat. A bright colour like orange or red will help you to be seen if you get lost. Weather can change quickly so always carry some warm clothes with you. Always carry a garbage bag and a whistle on a picnic, hike or camping trip. An orange garbage bag is best. If you do get lost, you can make a hole in the bag for your face (so you can breathe!) and put the bag on over your head to keep you dry and warm. Carry a whistle. It requires less energy than yelling and can be heard further than your voice.

Carry a non-perishable snack and something to drink. You can't always rely on finding clean water if you get lost. Keep your snack, drink, garbage bag and whistle in a baggie pinned to the inside of your jacket.

HUG A TREE as soon as you think you are lost. For kids, this is one of the most important outdoor safety tips for hiking and exploring. A tree can be your friend while people are looking for you. It will shelter you and help you feel better. Hugging your tree will keep you in one place so you can be found.

If you get lost, your parents will get a search team to find you. Don't hide if you see someone looking for you. It is probably a person from a search team or someone else who can help you.

Stay calm and stay in one place! You will be safest if you stay calm and stay in one place. If you hear a noise that frightens you, yell out your name. Animals are usually more afraid of you than you are of them.

Make yourself BIG when you are lost. If you are lost, try to pick a tree near a clearing so you can be easily seen. Lie down in the clearing by your tree when you hear a helicopter fly over.

Outdoor Safety Tips - Back Country Gear For Wilderness Safety

Thinking about the weather is often overlooked when thinking about outdoor safety tips and planning. But even the best weather can change quickly and you can be caught out when the sun falls. Having outdoor survival essentials ensures you are prepared for backcountry traveling even if it's for just for a few hours.

back country gear compass
  • Map
  • Compass
  • (and know how to use it!) - Even if you are carrying a GPS, it is essential that you can navigate using a map and compass.
  • Water
  • - Carry extra water.
  • Extra Food
  • - Carry in bear proof containers.
  • Extra Clothes
  • - Think layers.
  • First Aid Kit
  • - The size of the kit will depend on the number of people in your party, the length of the trip, and the remoteness and level of risk you plan to engage in. Remember to restock items in your kit and to check the condition of the contents and any expiration dates.
  • A Knife
  • Headlamp/Flashlight
  • - With spare bulbs and batteries.
  • Whistle/Signalling Device
  • - A whistle attracts attention, can be heard over long distances, and is more sustainable than shouting for help. Three blasts is a standard distress signal.
  • Waterproof Matches/Lighter
  • - Know how to build a camp fire.
  • Fire Starter/Candle Lantern
  • Large Orange Plastic Bag
  • - One of the most valuable items on the list. Crawl into the bag to keep warm and dry. The orange colour is highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air.
  • Emergency Space Blanket
  • Cellular Phone, Satellite Phone, Hand Held Radio & Fully Charged Battery
  • Sun Protection
  • - hat, suncreen, sun glasses

In addition to outdoor safety tips, please read about Wildlife you can enounter in the Okanagan back country and hiking trails, and tips for Safe Camping in BC and the Okanagan Valley. Whether you're out for a leisurely day hike through Provincial or Forest park trails or a multi-day trek through the backcountry areas, ensure your trip is a safe one with proper preparation and education. These hiking and outdoor safety tips are a guideline based on information and research we did independantly. You can find more wilderness and outdoor safety information at the BC Search and Rescue website here

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