Here are ways to help make your park visit safer and enjoyable.
How to Dress
- Even in summer, be prepared for wet, cool conditions. West Coast weather can change quickly. Check the forecast before heading out.
- Dress in layers.
- Wear clothing that stays warm when wet and dries quickly (i.e. fleece - not cotton).
- Wear appropriate footwear (i.e. sturdy hiking shoes).
- In summer, wear sun-protective clothing (i.e. hats with brims).
- Wear reflective gear to be visible, use a headlamp or flashlight, make sure your pet is visible too, especially in the rainy winter months.
What to Bring
Always carry a daypack filled with essentials, in case you need to stay out longer than planned. Here are some suggestions:
- current map of area
- snacks and extra food
- flashlight and spare batteries
- large orange plastic bag (useful as rainwear, shelter or for signalling)
- extra clothing in a waterproof plastic bag (i.e. rain gear, hat, gloves), ideally reflective
- pocket knife
- waterproof matches/lighter
- fire starter paste or cubes
- compass (learn how to use it before you set out)
- first aid kit (be familiar with the contents)
- pencil and paper
- emergency tarp or thermal blanket
- pack of tissues
- cell phone
- plastic bags for pet droppings
- Plan your trip and stick to the plan.
- Check weather forecasts before heading out.
- Make sure your equipment is in good working order.
- Know the trails of the parks you visit. Read park brochures and information kiosks.
- Stay on designated trails.
- Hike with a friend or in a group.
- Leave a trip plan with a friend. If you don't return on schedule, your friend can contact emergency personnel.
- Be prepared to stay out longer than planned.
- If lost, make yourself visible and stay where you are until help arrives.
- Be aware of wildlife and exercise caution in wilderness areas with cougars, bears and other large omnivores (see reduce human-wildlife conflict below).
- Is your canine companion camouflaged? For the safety of your dog and others, be extra visible on trails. Use a reflective collar and leash, and other bright gear.
- Be extra cautious and visible at road crossings. Right-of-way varies, depending on the municipality.
All regional parks and regional trails remain open year round, however be prepared for changing weather conditions.
- Weather can change quickly, so always check the forecast before heading out.
- In wilderness parks, such as Sea to Sea and Sooke Hills Wilderness, weather changes are especially varied, and include heavy snowfall in the winter.
- Be prepared for rain, frost and ice at regional parks and on regional trails and expect slippery surfaces.
- Cycling commuters may want to consider winter bike tires or alternative transportation during cold snaps or snowy weather.
- During wind storms, watch for falling branches, changing beach conditions and slippery surfaces. Avoid forested areas in high winds (40km/h+)
- During the rainy winter months, be extra visible walking on roads & trails. Wear bright reflective clothing. Consider using a headlamp or flashlight. Make sure pets are too.
- Use bear resistant bins and/or follow food storage rules as set out at the campsite.
- Keep your campsite clean and odour free.
- Do not have any food in your tent.
- When sleeping in your tent, have your bear spray and a flashlight in a readily accessible area.
Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict
You are sharing this natural area with large carnivores such as bears, cougars, and wolves.
- Stay alert. Wildlife may be in the area. Watch for signs such as tracks, claw marks on trees and scat.
- Make noise to avoid surprise encounters, especially around blind corners and areas with dense vegetation.
- Do not approach or feed wildlife. Keep a minimum viewing distance of 100 m from bears, cougars, and wolves and 30 m from other animals.
- Dogs must be kept on leash at all times to reduce the risk of encounters with large carnivores.
- Do not leave children or pets unattended.
Help reduce human-wildlife conflicts:
- Report wildlife-human interactions where public safety may be at risk to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1.800.663.9453.
- Never swim alone, and look before diving. Lakes contain hidden hazards like rocks, ledges and logs.
- Remember, lifeguard service is not provided in regional parks.
- If you’re a new swimmer, stay shallow. Don’t go past your belly button. Swim with a buddy.
- Remember, inflatables and life jackets are not as safe as adult supervision.
- Be sun safe. Wear sun screen and a hat. Drink lots of water.
- HealthLink BC
Mountain Bike Safely
From International Mountain Bicycling Association of Canada:
IMBA developed the "Rules of the Trail" to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions.
- Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
- Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
- Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
- Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
- Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Safety is your personal responsibility. Be prepared for possible hazards and always exercise caution. Remember that if you have an emergency, it could take several hours for help to come.
- Cell phone coverage is limited in some parks.
- Turn off your phone when not in use to conserve the battery.
- In case of emergency call 911.
- Report wildlife-human interactions where the public may be at risk to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1.877.952.7277.
- Report a wildfire to 1.800.663.5555 or *5555 from a mobile phone.
- Report park violations or animal control issues to 250.478.3344.