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B.C. Search and Rescue Association asks public to take extra precautions outdoors

Maintain physical distance and be prepared, organization warns
B.C. Search and Rescue Association urges backcountry users to practice extreme caution and social distancing. Photo by Alyssa Noel

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSAR) and Emergency Management B.C. are asking the public to be extra cautious when heading into the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, March 27, the organizations issued a joint message urging people to maintain physical distancing in the outdoors and ensure they're prepared so they don't get lost or injured.

"British Columbia’s 2,500 search and rescue volunteers respond to calls all over the province to help those who have been lost, stranded or injured in B.C.’s outdoors," the release says. "With the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks these volunteers and other personnel take are heightened, as there is a risk of virus transmission during a call. By taking extra precautions, people help reduce the risk to search and rescue volunteers, other responders, and front-line health care workers."

That message comes on the heels of Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) asking the province to consider banning backcountry use. WSAR manager Brad Sills also urged backcountry users to exercise extreme caution.

If you do go into the backcountry, BCSAR asks you to remember:

• Park access may have changed

• SAR volunteer levels may fluctuate

• Physical distancing must be done, even outside

Last week, Avalanche Canada announced it would be ending its forecasts on Saturday, March 28, due to the pandemic. (Read more here.)

"Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family if going into the outdoors, look to for more information but remember extra caution is needed during this time," BCSAR writes. "If you are not fully prepared then stick to walks in an urban area close to home while maintaining physical distancing following the Provincial Health Officer’s directions."

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