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Search And Rescue’s “10 Ways To Get Yourself Killed This Winter”

Fraser Valley/Vancouver (CBC) – You have seen the Facebook meme of actor Sam Elliott and the caption “You must be a special kind of stupid”.

On the heels of their busiest year ever, the tireless volunteers of Vancouver’s North Shore Rescue team are turning to humour to highlight the not-so-funny ways people get themselves in trouble — and sometimes killed — when heading into the local mountains.

In an article entitle “10 Ways to Get Yourself Killed this Winter”, author and rescue volunteer Curtis Jones takes a reverse psychology approach in listing the most common reason people end up needing rescuing.

North Shore Rescue volunteers gear up for a helicopter rescue near the Lions.
North Shore Rescue volunteers gear up for a helicopter rescue near the Lions. (North Shore Rescue)

The article makes it clear that the purpose of the list is to encourage individuals to do exactly the opposite.

North Shore Rescue
North Shore Rescue rescuing a woman from the Needles in Lynn Valley Headwaters Park. (YouTube)

According to the list the number one way to “get yourself killed” is: “Do not tell anyone where you are going or when to expect you back.”

“If we don’t know you are lost, or where to look, it is likely we will not find you,” writes Jones.

Other ways to “get yourself killed” include “If you get lost just keep going and going and going…”, “Do not wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the environment” and “Never turn around or alter plans when conditions change.”

“If you follow this list you are very likely not going to come back from your adventure,” writes Jones.

area closed sign
Ducking into out-of-bounds areas is a good way to end up lost and needing rescue. (North Shore Rescue)

Jones notes that the current sunny weather and scenic snow capped North Shore mountains are a magnet for people, but it’s important to remember  the inherent dangers and to prepare properly, even when heading out for short outing.

The article also highlights the dangers of ducking into out-of-bounds areas when skiing or snowboarding, noting on the North Shore it “almost always means you are heading into steep, slippery, uncontrolled terrain which often ends in a really big waterfall.”

Check out the full list from NSR

  1. “Do not tell anyone where you are going or when to expect you back – if we don’t know you are lost, or where to look, it is likely we will not find you (or even start looking for you).
  2. Travel by yourself – It is far easier for something to go wrong if there is no one there to call for help or to provide emergency assistance while SAR is enroute. Who needs a pesky companion to watch their back!
  3. “Do not stay in bounds or on established trails – If you were looking to get yourself into trouble, why would you stay in areas that are controlled for avalanches and have ski patrollers dedicated to keeping you safe? Similarly, why not head off the beaten path into terrain that has claimed so many lives?
  4. “If you get lost, just keep going and going and going … – Needle in a haystack anyone? Now picture that haystack being a mountain, and that needle still being a needle, only a moving one. Definitely a great way to not get found. Similarly, if you keep heading downhill you will likely encounter steeper terrain and slippery waterfalls. This is definitely a sure fire way to slip and fall to your death.
  5. “Do not plan your route or check the Forecast – This one should be pretty obvious if you are trying to get yourself killed. Why would you want to know the conditions and plan your route accordingly, when you can just run head long into complex terrain and get buried in an avalanche?
  6. “Do not carry a avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel – If you want to seal the deal when you get buried by an avalanche – provided you have ignored point 2 – it is likely that you don’t want your companions to have the tools they need to rescue you. In the odd chance you are still alive when SAR arrives, not having a transceiver will pretty much guarantee that they don’t find you before the air runs out.
  7. “Do not wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the environment – There is no faster way to freeze to death than by wearing cotton clothing, denim, and rain boots. If you want to chance survival, yoga clothes may go either way. You definitely don’t want a change of warm wool clothing available in the event you get wet either.
  8. “Do not pay attention to sunset time and definitely do not carry a light – It’s way easier to lose the trail, get lost, and freeze when you can’t see where you are going.
  9. “Do not carry the 10 essentials, ever – If you are looking to get killed, you definitely don’t want to be well hydrated or have the basic survival tools necessary to survive until SAR arrives. Why have the ability to make a fire or build a shelter if you plan to freeze?
  10. “Never turn around or alter plans when conditions change – If the weather changes for the worse, or you start to notice signs of increasing avalanche risk (radiating cracks, wumpfing, observable slides), you may as well keep going. Not going to die by turning back right?”

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