First, let me commend you for visiting this page. It's so important that you care about safety!
No one goes out expecting to get hurt or lost or worse. Make sure you are prepared.
Regardless of what activity you’re doing, what time of day it is, what time of year, the length or difficulty level of the hike, or even how familiar with the trail you are, you need to ALWAYS:
- Leave a Trip Plan
- Be Prepared
First and foremost, always leave a trip plan with someone responsible. Let them know where exactly you're going and when you plan to be back. Be sure to check in with them upon your return, and have them be prepared to call 9-1-1 if you haven't checked in within a couple of hours of your expected return. Make sure they don't wait too long. Even Search and Rescue cannot perform rescues if the weather/conditions are too bad. Most people cannot survive outdoors, especially in winter, for more than 24 hours without proper gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc) so it's better to be over-cautious than under-cautious.
Just because someone posts a gorgeous photograph on Instagram today of a trail does not mean it is safe for you to hike there right now. Only you are responsible for your safety. Make sure you thoroughly research your route, regardless if you're hiking as part of a group. Look up multiple trail descriptions from multiple sources (there are so many!), make sure you have a paper and/or offline-accessible map of the trail (see my blog post about hiking apps) and fully review it before going, check the trail is appropriate for the time of year, and make sure that you're fully capable of completing the hike.
Make sure you have the right gear for the type of hike and time of year. Summer hikes and winter hikes require different equipment for example. Read my blog post about hiking in the rain for some suggestions on what to bring on wet-weather hikes. Heading out for a snowy hike? Read my blog post about snowshoeing for beginners and make sure you are well-versed in avalanche safety and preparedness. Visit Avalanche Canada to learn more.
No matter the hike, always carry The 10 Essentials. Click the link to learn more but the 10 essential items are: light, signalling device, fire starter, extra clothes, pocketknife, shelter, extra food & water, first aid kit, navigation and communication, and sun protection.
Never rely on cell phone coverage or electronic devices in general. They can be great additions, but technology can and frequently does fail.
Do not overestimate your ability. It is important that you have the fitness capability to complete a hike, but no level of fitness can get you out of an unexpected accident like getting lost or injured. Make sure you always have the right gear and tools to help you in an emergency.
This information above is not exhaustive. Please visit BC AdventureSmart and North Shore Rescue for more detailed safety information.