Being prepared for any outdoor activity is the key to safely enjoying the outdoors.
Use the following list as a guide to ensure preparedness for your activity. You can print out the following pages put to in your pack permanently.
Check the trail or park conditions prior to your recreational activity by calling the responsible organization for the area or looking on their website for updates.
Tell someone about the trails you intend to be on and your ex- pected time of return (all mileage and time outlined in this book is return time). Consider putting a note on the dash of your car if you haven’t told anyone of your absence.
Be prepared for all weather conditions and know the current forecast.
Stay on signed trails, obtain a map and check it frequently while on the trails.
Darkness comes quickly in valleys and forested areas; allow time to return before dark.
Turn back if the weather worsens or the activity becomes too strenuous.
If lost, stay put and wait for help.
Know what to do if you surprise a bear (no direct eye contact, no running). Look down and to the side, back away slowly and be loud. On the other hand, if it is a cougar, be large, loud and intimidating.
Although not common in the areas discussed in this book, watch for ticks around your ankles, waist and hair.
Carry the ten activity safety essentials listed below in your back- pack, pannier or boat dry bag.
Ten Essentials for Activity Safety
The gear you bring will depend, for the most part, on the activity you choose and the amount of time you expect to be out. Factors such as the weather, terrain, who is accompanying you, how far you are from assistance or whether you want the flexibility to extend your activity will all influence your decision. Whether you are using a daypack, a pannier or a hydration or hip pack, consider the following when pre- paring for your outing or, rather, should I say your insurance policy for your outing!
Keep the following at the bottom of your pack and leave it there, but check it before you depart for the day:
❑ Flashlight/headlamp – with reliable and/or extra batteries. ❑ Extra food and water – at a minimum, a 500-ml water bottle, ❑ Gatorade crystals and a few high-energy food bars. ❑ Extra warm and waterproof clothing (think layers) – buy a small stuff sack and, at a minimum, put in a wool toque, fleece sweater, gloves, wool socks, light rain jacket and pants (no jeans or cotton). ❑ First aid kit and sun protection – know what’s in it and how to use it. Consider a small ready-made kit with a booklet, as well as a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen and hat. ❑ Pocket knife or multipurpose tool – not just for opening the wine and cutting the brie. It has infinite uses! ❑ Fire – fire-starter candle with waterproof matches or a lighter. ❑ Signal device – connect a whistle to all the packs you use. ❑ Emergency shelter – a large, orange, “multipurpose” garbage bag (cheap), thermal bag (also cheap) or a corded siltarp (pricey but small and light) would serve as a shelter.
The final two items you should add to your pack on the day you head out:
❑ Map and communication – get a map and compass or a GPS (and extra batteries) and train yourself on how to use them; bring a fully charged cellphone. For the North Shore there is a great map titled North Shore Trail Map – GPS-based – 1:20,000 waterproof. Available at Mountain Equipment Co-op, it covers many of the ac-tivities in this book.
❑ Personal items – bring glasses (sun, vision), any required medica- tion, identification and an extra set of car keys (ideally connected to another activity partner). Know your plan and tell someone else about it (who you’re with, where you’re going and when you expect to return).
In addition, here is one more thing to consider: bring a child or teenager if you can! A partner not only adds another level of safety but bequeathing an attitude of a healthy lifestyle and connection to natu- ral areas will help young people develop a lifelong interest in the out- doors – this can only be a good thing!
Safety Equipment Specific for Water Activities
When paddling in a kayak or canoe, be sure to carry the proper safety gear. This checklist will help in your planning: ❑ personal flotation devices (PFDs) fitted properly for each person; ❑ sound-signalling device; ❑ tow/throw line; ❑ bailer or pump; ❑ paddle float; ❑ headlamps; ❑ spare paddle or oar; ❑ knife; ❑ first aid kit; ❑ thermos with hot tea; ❑ change of clothes or wetsuit/drysuit; ❑ mobile phone in a waterproof case.