British Columbia

Anticipated surge in winter sport participation prompts safety warning from expert

With more people expected to head to the mountains for some COVID-19 escapism, Sandra Richards, executive director at AdventureSmart B.C., is reminding people to do some safety planning before they play.

Snowshoeing and backcountry skiing gear expected to fly off shelves this season

Winter sport equipment is expected to be a big seller because of the pandemic. A non-profit organization funded by the B.C. Search and Rescue Association is advising having a safety plan before heading out. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

If the summer rush on camping gear was any indication, British Columbians want to play outside during the pandemic and now, as winter sport gear hits store shelves, AdventureSmart wants to make sure people are, well, adventure smart, before trekking into the tundra.

Sandra Riches, executive director of the non-profit which is funded by the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, says it is critical people are prepared before they play. This, she said, includes making sure you are physically and mentally fit for the activity you are doing, and sharing a safety plan with someone who isn't heading into the hills with you.

Riches said she wants people to focus on three T's when prepping for a winter adventure — trip planning, training, and taking the essentials needed to stay safe.

"They have to do a little bit of homework and plan before they head out there," Riches told CBC's The Early Edition Friday.

She said fitness training is important, especially for people who are new to an activity or have not done it for awhile and may not be at the fitness level they once were. Riches also recommends people who go into the backcountry have avalanche training as well.

"Having that avalanche awareness, and an ability to assess the terrain that you're in, is really, really critical," said Riches.

Planning app available

Chris Meyer, the co-owner of North Shore Sports Swap in North Vancouver, said he expects snowshoes and backcountry skis to fly off the shelves this season.

"I think a lot of businesses like ourselves have sort of forecasted that [and] brought in extra inventory to accommodate," said Meyers.

Riches recommends shoppers also download the AdventureSmart Trip Plan app. The app is a template people can use to create a trip plan that can be shared with friends and family. That way someone knows when and where you are in the wilderness.

"If something goes sideways, that plan is left with an emergency contact and then that gets to search and rescue to help find you faster and in better condition," said Riches.

Tap the audio link below to hear Chris Meyer and Sandra Riches interviewed on CBC's The Early Edition.

North Shore Sports Swap co-owner Chris Meyer and Adventure Smart BC executive director Sandra Riches speak with Stephen Quinn about the growing urge to tackle the outdoors as the temperature drops. 7:30

With files from The Early Edition

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