As avalanche season approaches, police are warning backcountry enthusiasts to be prepared before venturing out.

Ten people died in avalanches in British Columbia last year. A 50-year-old surveyor was swept off a cliff in an avalanche near Stewart in October.

Jan Neuspiel, who has been an alpine guide and instructor for more than 25 years, says taking an avalanche course online or through a guide will help reduce the risk, and teach backcountry enthusiasts how to properly interpret avalanche forecasts.

"You're not going to be safe by accident. You're not going to happen to make the right decisions," he said.

"You're going to make good decisions if you plan in advance, and choosing terrain for the trip that's appropriate to the current avalanche danger and to your own personal level of acceptable risk."

Police advise those heading out into the backcountry to remember the 10 essentials to survive in the outdoors:

  • Use the right gear and equipment.
  • Have a safety plan and share it with family.
  • Carry a GPS satellite unit.
  • Emergency first aid kit.
  • Flashlight.
  • Fire-making kit.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Extra food and water.
  • Emergency shelter.
  • Pocket knife.