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SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

SAR: Preparation and precaution essential to staying safe this summer

As members of the Search and Rescue Community, our hearts go out to the families of the young adults who tragically lost their lives at Shannon Falls near Squamish this past week. The volunteer teams from Squamish Search and Rescue, fire departments and the RCMP who attempted the rescue, and ultimately performed the recovery, are equally in our thoughts. Closer to home, our own Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue team worked alongside first responders to assist at the tragic plane crash in Selma Park. Our deeply felt sympathy and support goes out to the family and loved ones of those involved. As we learn at Search and Rescue on a regular basis, accidents are by nature unpredictable.

With the excitement that the outset of summer brings, may we remember as well to make every preparation, and take every precaution possible. As we are forced to learn, each year it seems, accidents happen so very quickly. It is for this reason that we prepare, plan and inform friends of our intended path before we take to the ocean, lakes and mountains of our beautiful coast.  As survivors, we owe it to the fallen to maintain a vigilant and compassionate watch over one another.

It will surprise few that the vast majority of water related fatalities occur during the summer months; incidents of drowning occur most commonly when British Columbians are swimming, fishing or power-boating. The Community Against Preventable Injuries is partnering on a safe boating campaign with Transport Canada, the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR), in an effort to significantly reduce the number of serious preventable injuries – including drowning – by challenging the notion that injuries just “happen” but they “won’t happen to me”.

Here are a few tips worth following:

• Wear a Personal Flotation Device/Lifejacket: No one “expects” to fall overboard – hence the vast majority of boaters who drowned in 2016 were not wearing a lifejacket or were wearing it incorrectly.

• Alcohol consumption: Drinking and boating don’t mix – over 40 per cent of victims had consumed alcohol prior to the incident.

• Have the right equipment: Make sure it is in good working condition and accessible, and know how to use it.

“No one expects to fall overboard when enjoying a day out on the water,” says Pat Quealey, CEO of RCMSAR. “Too often we rescue people who have fallen into the water without wearing a lifejacket. Having the right equipment and wearing a lifejacket can save lives.”

The safe boating campaign is part of a three-year project. To learn more about preventable injuries, visit To learn more about RCMSAR, visit

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