Here’s an idea; take a whistle

By Mark Squibb

With the Victoria Day weekend coming up, folks will be flocking to cabins and campgrounds in droves.

Craig Moores, the NL AdventureSmart Coordinator with the Paradise-based Rovers Search and Rescue group, said there’s lots you can do to stay safe while enjoying the holiday weekend.

If you’re going for a hike or an ATV ride, perhaps the most important thing you can do is make a trip plan.

“Leave a trip plan with somebody,” said Moores. “Leave a little note saying where you’re going, who’s with you, and when you plan on being back. That goes a long way. Because if the person doesn’t come back, we’ll get a call, ‘This person went on this trip, and this is where they were going, and they haven’t come back.’”

Moores said many people don’t bother with a trip plan, while others make a plan but don’t stick to it.

“The bottom line is if you just tell someone where you’re going, who’s with you, when you’re going to return, and stick to that, we would have a whole lot less trouble,” he said.

Moores noted you can download the AdventureSmart Trip Plan app on your phone, and easily create and share trip plans with family and friends.

As the long weekend marks the first camping weekend for many people, Moores said it’s important to inspect your gear before heading out.

“Get your equipment out and check it over, make sure everything is in good working order and that you have all the proper safety gear that you’re supposed to have,” he said. “If you’re going to have your boat in the water, make sure the engine is working properly and get anything that needs to be repaired, repaired.”

If you find yourself lost in the woods, Moores advised to stop where you are, so long as it’s safe to do so, sit back, have a look around, and try to find a familiar landmark.

“If you’re totally lost, find a shelter, whether it be a big tree or a rock,” said Moores. “Most people today carry cell phones — unfortunately they don’t always work, and you don’t always have service — but if you can, get on your phone. We’ve had people who were lost call us.”

If you’re heading into the woods or onto the barrens, he recommends taking a knapsack with some snacks, a bottle of water, warm clothes, a tinfoil emergency blanket, and — something you may not have thought to bring with you — a whistle.

“Carry a whistle with you,” said Moores. “A whistle will attract people a lot easier than shouting because your voice won’t last very long.”

Moores also said it’s important to remain calm and keep a level head.

“People get themselves in more trouble when they start running around in the woods,” said Moores. “They get panicky, and they start running, and then they trip and fall. So, they started out lost and scared, and now they’re lost and scared and injured.”

If you’re heading out on an ATV this weekend, Moores said to take your time, watch out for others, and be aware of traffic.

Moores noted the long weekend can be a bit of a two-edged sword for search and rescue, due to the number of people who are out and about in the woods and campgrounds.

“The good thing about lots of people being out in the countryside is that there’s more people out to assist others that get into trouble,” he said. “So, the more people who are out, the more people could get into potential trouble. But the more people out, the more people are around to assist others in need.”

Moores, himself a resident of Paradise, has volunteered with Rovers Search and Rescue for the last decade, and has volunteered with Scouts Canada for some 40 years.

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