Rainwear, repellent and restrictions on fires: A May long weekend survival guide for campers

If you're planning on camping this Victoria Day long weekend, here are a few things you'll need to consider.

A few tips and tricks to help you herald summer's unofficial debut in style

You can bring alcohol to provincial campgrounds if you like, but check for campfire restrictions if you're packing your tent for the long weekend. (National Park Service/The Associated Press)

The unofficial start to a Manitoba summer is upon us — and as you're making Victoria Day long weekend plans, the first thing you'll need to know is that it begins with much-needed rain.

After weeks of sustained dry conditions in southern Manitoba, campers heading out for long weekend should anticipate soggy conditions as they set up their tents on Friday.

In Winnipeg, a range of 10-20 millimetres of rain is forecast for Friday morning and a few showers are expected in the afternoon.

But by the next day, the precipitation will give way to a mainly sunny and breezy Victoria Day weekend, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-20s by Sunday and holiday Monday in southern Manitoba.

Winnipeg's extended weather forecast promises rain on Friday and more sun in the days ahead. (John Sauder/CBC)

CBC meterologist John Sauder said Friday's rain in much needed in the parched province.

"Rain is a good thing, and the other good thing is it clears up for the long weekend," said Sauder.

With the promising forecast, you'll want to make the most of the days ahead.

Here are a few tips.

Pop a cold one at the campground

Campers inclined to raise a cold one to Queen Victoria (or for any other reason) are in luck.

The Manitoba government has lifted the ban on liquor in provincial campgrounds this May long weekend. (Igor Bukhlin/Shutterstock)

The province decided to lift its blanket ban this May long on drinking alcohol at Manitoba provincial campgrounds — a ban put in place to address a weekend "marred by the behaviour of rowdy campers," a Manitoba MLA said in the mid-1990s.

Those who don't want to indulge may appreciate the alcohol-free camping areas the province has designated, including family-friendly camping bays at Birds Hill and Grand Beach provincial parks.

Hold your fire

Whether drinking or not, you'll have to be careful about roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

Areas of the province, including Winnipeg, has imposed burn bans on all outdoor fires — even in sanctioned fire pits — to prevent wildland fires from starting in the dry landscape.

Some of the province's busiest campgrounds, including Grand Beach and West Hawk Lake, will only permit campfires between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The province will decide Friday whether to implement a provincewide campfire ban. 

'Any tick bite is a serious deal'

If you aren't careful, you might bring home more than memories from your camping trip. 

A recent study in Manitoba has demonstrated new evidence of borrelia miyamotoi — a tick-borne disease — in people with suspected or confirmed cases of Lyme disease.

Another emerging disease, Powassan virus (also known as deer tick virus), has been detected locally.

People are encouraged to use strong repellents and tuck their pants into their socks to protect themselves from the leeching parasites.

"It is very important that people don't dismiss any tick bite," Marnie Le Page from Manitoba Lyme and Tick-borne Illnesses told CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. "Any tick bite is a serious deal."

Manitobans should also be particularly cautious of blacklegged ticks, which transmits emerging viruses and common reportable diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis.

Boat safely

It's fitting that the May long weekend marks the beginning of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week. It corresponds with the time of year when most boating deaths occur, said the Lifesaving Society's Manitoba branch.

"Manitoba has one of the highest boating fatality rates in the country," acting CEO Kevin Tordiffe said in a media release. "This province has some of the best parks and beaches in the country. I'm encouraging all Manitobans to get out and enjoy these attractions safely."

To ensure everyone is safe on the water, boaters are encouraged to become familiar with these key behaviours:

  • Wear a life-jacket.
  • Boat sober.
  • Take a boating course.
  • Make sure both you and your vessel are prepared.

Boaters are also asked to take care of their aquatic playground by preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.

Before leaving a body of water, the province encourages boaters to clean and remove any plants, invasive species or mud from their equipment, as well as drain water; dry equipment that sat in the water and dispose any bait used in the water. 

Need a camping spot?

Many campgrounds in Manitoba still have campsites available for booking.

Visit the provincial and national registration website to secure your May long venue.


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