Runners and walkers enjoying the Pumpkin Spice Run in Chemainus in 2018. Trail use is on the rise throughout the region, but precautions need to be taken for COVID-19. (Photo by Jacqui MacLeod)

EDITORIAL: Don’t go overboard on outdoor activity

Not the time to be extending your limits and placing rescuers in a precarious position

The arrival of warmer weather brings people outdoors in droves anyway, but it’s already looking like trails and beaches are going to be inundated even more due to COVID-19.

With the easing of restrictions, those who’ve been cooped up from the virus are letting loose in record numbers at parks and any outdoor spaces where you can soak up some sunshine or picturesque atmosphere rather than looking at the walls of your houses for so long.

READ MORE: B.C. search and rescue groups responded to 700 calls in first half of 2020

But we still have to be extremely careful about excessive gatherings and staying within the prescribed measures for the sake of everyone. We’re finding this virus has shown its nasty side and isn’t to be messed with, no matter what your age group. And the warmer weather clearly isn’t diminishing its potency yet.

As long as people continue with the physical distancing, which is a lot easier to do here on the Island than in downtown Vancouver or other larger centres, and the frequent hand washing and wearing masks in public where distancing isn’t possible, we should be fine.

The other thing to keep in mind while doing outdoor activities is not to go overboard or beyond your own limits just because you want to do. The number of rescues around the province last weekend was alarming.

That means far too many people are taking chances that exceed their capabilities. Rescuers can also be placed in a very difficult position with COVID-19, if the need arises for extensive medical and transportation supports.

The lack of adequate preparation remains the most common fault of hikers. If you’re going on a longer hike, you must ensure there’s enough water, food, medical items, a GPS or compass, cell phone and more for emergencies.

Without these items and if a situation arises where you need help, it can be very taxing for volunteers to find you and administer the required assistance quickly.

READ MORE: Langford teens reunited with family after rescue near Chemainus

Long story short, this is not the time to be climbing the Stawamus Chief in Squamish if you’ve never done it before or trying to kayak along the Cowichan River because you’ve always wanted to do it. A simple walk in the park is sufficient to give you the piece of mind you desire after these tumultuous four months of COVID’s wrath.

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