A study published in 2021 has resurfaced online, sparking debate about what is needed while hiking in the backcountry in B.C.
The study, dubbed “Rethinking hiker preparedness: Association of carrying 10 essentials with adverse events and satisfaction among day-hikers,” says the majority of adverse events day hikers are likely to experience can be addressed with food and water, a rain jacket, a small medic kit, and a charged cell phone.
B.C. Search and Rescue officials said the findings of the study do not align with their statistics.
“It is contrary to everything we’ve seen in our data. It is completely opposite of what we see,” said Dwight Yochim, BC Search and Rescue Association’s senior manager.
“We have about 1,700 searches a year in B.C., and about half of those have no injuries and have no navigational tools, which is something we suggest people carry.”
Another big issue that leads to rescues is hikers not having a working flashlight, Yochim said.
Yochim said that while the 10 essential items may never be used for a hiker, they are necessary precautions that can save lives.
“It’s like asking someone who’s driving, ‘Did you use your airbag today?’” he said.
The 10 items in question are a flashlight and spare batteries, food and water, extra clothing, navigational aids, a fire starter, a first aid kit, an emergency shelter, sun protection, a pocket knife, and a signalling device.
The study was conducted and coauthored by Nicholas Daniel, Dr. Samir Patel, Peter St. Marie and Dr. Elizabeth Schoenfeld in the U.S., and was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
“The vast majority of adverse events that day hikers are likely to experience can be prepared for by bringing water, food, a rain jacket, and a small medical kit,” the study found in its conclusions.
“Additional carried items may be based on the location of the hike, terrain, activity, plan, and hiker experience. Our data does not support the idea that carrying more items leads to fewer adverse events, nor overall changes in satisfaction, but this may not generalize to other day hikes.”
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B.C. Search and Rescue also recently advised lost hikers to follow their S.T.O.P. protocol.
It stands for Stop, Think, Observe and Plan, and it comes in quite handy when someone becomes lost or disoriented.
“No matter how big or small your adventure is, if there’s an emergency and you’re confused and need help, you can manage your risk by applying the S.T.O.P. analogy,” said Sandra Riches, executive director of B.C. AdventureSmart, which is part of B.C. Search and Rescue.
“Stop. Think. Observe. Plan. It puts you through the paces. It allows you to manage risk and address any emergency and communicate with first responders.”
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— with files from Global News’ Doyle Potenteau.