Intrepid travellers on The Great Trail are familiar with being alone in remote areas. Seasoned adventurers may know how to pack and plan, but they also need a way to reach first responders in case of an emergency when there is no cell service, or in the event that their phone battery has died in a survival situation.
CASARA TOP 10 SAFETY TIPS FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURERS:
- Plan your travel route.
- Determine how long your trip will take.
- Share your travel plans with family or friends.
- Prepare a regional/seasonal specific survival kit.
- Carry navigation equipment such as a map, compass and GPS – and know how to use them.
- Have enough clothing to keep you warm and dry throughout the night if necessary.
- Have a means to start a fire for warmth or to signal for a rescue.
- Pack a sharp knife, flashlight, first aid kit, rope, saw blade and signal mirror.
- Carry at least two litres of water, if no source of clean water will be available.
- Communication is essential – carry a satellite device such as a SPOT Gen3 GPS Satellite Messenger that can be set to track your progress and send OK and SOS messages.
CASARA official offers backcountry preparedness tips
The Great Trail is the world's longest network of land and water trails, 24,000 kilometres in length, spanning the entire country. Much of the Trail is beyond the reach of cellular networks. For back country hikers and outdoor enthusiasts planning adventures on the Trail this winter, there are some basic preparedness steps to consider before heading out.
John Fargey, vice-president of training and operations for the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), is very familiar with the situations back country adventurers can find themselves in and is well-positioned to provide tips to those who would venture out into the wilderness. CASARA is a Canada-wide organization, made up of 1,800 search and rescue volunteers, which is funded by the Department of National Defence. It provides search capabilities to augment and at times supplement Royal Canadian Air Force Search and Rescue resources.
Fargey says, “The Great Trail stretches from coast to coast to coast with much of it being in back country. Hikers using the Trail need to be prepared and skilled to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. As a 30-year member of CASARA in the resolution of aeronautical search and rescue incidents, I have been involved in many searches that could have been avoided or shortened by people being prepared. Like a pilot filing a flight plan, the outdoor enthusiast using the Trail should be prepared as well by carrying survival gear and first aid supplies.”
Fargey stresses the importance of communication for wilderness adventurers. “Communication is essential, tell people where you are going and when they can expect you back – especially the people who would report you missing or overdue. Don’t rely on just a cell phone, because the availability of cellular networks is not always reliable. Using a satellite device such as the SPOT Gen3 GPS Satellite Messenger is a reliable way to stay safe and connected when beyond the reach of a cellular network,” he says.
Pack a satellite messenger device for safety, reliable communications
Satellite messenger devices such as SPOT offer peace of mind, and a way of staying safe and connected, when beyond cellular service. While there are a few choices on the market, we talked to Fintan Robb, senior director of marketing for Globalstar Canada, about SPOT. The premise is simple – in advance of your trip, set up your contact list so you can keep your contacts informed of your progress with location information.
While you are out on your trip, your contacts receive an email or text with your status and can zero in on your location with a link to Google Maps or follow your route of travel using SPOT’s tracking features. For adventurers, this means safety, and for friends and family peace of mind in knowing where they are – and that they are safe – at all times. The messages are carried over the Globalstar satellite network, which was recently completely modernized and upgraded two years ago, providing fast, reliable connectivity virtually anywhere – even in remote areas along Canada’s Great Trail.
If something goes wrong, you press the emergency SOS button on SPOT and the International Emergency Response Coordination Centre (IERCC) springs into action. First, your emergency contact is alerted to ensure that it isn’t a false alarm. Next, the IERCC will reach out to emergency responders for local coordination of the search and rescue effort based on your position. And SPOT isn’t just an insurance policy – SPOT is proven technology. It has been used to initiate 1,700 rescues in Canada since it was introduced in 2007. The top two rescue incident categories are hikers and mountain sports, according to Robb.
“For ten years, SPOT has helped take the search out of search and rescue by helping to initiate, locate and expedite the rescue of 5,500 people around the globe,” says Robb. “Now that The Great Trail is connected, linking all geographic regions of the country, we want to ensure that those using it are also safe and connected to family and friends.”
For anyone adventuring on The Great Trail this winter, personal safety and ensuring that your loved ones know where you are, are two very good reasons to pack a satellite messenger as part of your essential safety gear.
- Tips provided by CASARA
CASARA’s safety tips for outdoor adventurers plus more information on SPOT rescue incidents in Canada also available in this Infographic: www.findmespot.ca/rescues