The British Columbia Search and Rescue Association is urging you to be extra careful in the backcountry.

That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic is adding extra pressure on emergency resources across the province.

B.C.’s 2,500 search and rescue volunteers respond to calls all over the province. 

The pandemic heightens the danger, with the risk of virus transmission during calls. 

The organization is offering tips if you decide to head up trails and into parks during the pandemic.

  • Park access may have changed: Some parks and high-use areas are closed so check park information sources before you venture out.
  • SAR volunteer levels may fluctuate: The volume and type of SAR responses are also changing as volunteers deal with their own needs and challenges related to COVID-19. 
  • Physical distancing must be done, even outside: Physical distancing will help prevent transmission of COVID-19, and that includes when you’re outdoors. Make sure you stay at least two meters apart from others, avoid going in groups, visit parks during less busy times, and stay home if you’re sick.
  • Avalanches are still a threat: Avalanche Canada is ending forecasting early, reminding people to stay home. If you’re unsure of the level of risk in your area, stay home.
  • Self, Team, Bystanders and then Subject: Ground Search and Rescue operates within that safety maxim, meaning they will step back from a response if it puts them at undue risk. Should risk of exposure to the responders exceed an acceptable level, a response will be delayed until additional steps can be taken to reduce the risk.

Look to AdventureSmart for more information. 

If you aren’t fully prepared, then stick to walks close to home while maintaining physical distancing following the Provincial Health Officer’s directions.