Before you venture outside, it is important to remember to let someone know where you are going, and when you are expected back.
One of the reasons people love living in the Yukon is the easy access to the outdoors. Hiking, biking, hunting, canoeing and other outdoor activities are easily accessible from all of our communities.
It is also important to ensure that you are prepared for unplanned situations. You never know when the weather might unexpectedly change, someone might get injured or your equipment will break down.
Having the essential gear, knowing what to do and letting someone know your whereabouts will ensure you get help if needed, and that you will make it home safely.
Essential GearBringing along essential supplies is very important. None of us plan to be stuck in the wilderness, but we never know when their might be an equipment failure, an injury or bad weather that might hold us up and make us spend extra time in the outdoors that we hadn't planned on.
- Fill out a Yukon Smart Travel Plan or other travel plan and leave it with someone who will notice if you are not back by your intended return date.
- Current map or charts of the area
- Communication/navigational aids (compass, GPS, cellular phone, satellite phone, hand held radio)
Note: cell phones have limited coverage area in Yukon.
- Extra food and water
- Extra clothing stored in a waterproof container (rain/wind clothes, toque, mitts, warm sweater/fleece, pants - not jeans!)
- Signaling device - mirror or flares
- Pocket knife
- Waterproof/windproof matches or lighter
- Fire starter
- First-aid kit - including any necessary/essential medications
- Sun protection (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen) - yes, this is also needed in the Yukon winter!
- Emergency shelter such as a tarp or space blanket. Consider bringing a large orange garbage bag. It can be useful as an emergency shelter, signaling device or rainwear.
Hunters can consult the Hunter Education and Ethics Development website at Environment Yukon for basic equipment lists and other information at www.env.gov.yk.ca/huntingtrapping/heed.php.
- PFD (personal flotation device)
- Helmets for all ATV and snowmobile riders
- Spare parts for ATV/Snowmobile
- Spare tire for bikes or vehicles
- Flashlight with extra batteries (keep the batteries warm in cold weather)
- Extra gasoline
- Avalanche probe and beacon - practice using these!
- Bear spray
- Insect protection
- Spare paddle
- Patch kits for tires or boats
- Spare eye glasses
Road conditions, like weather, can change quickly. The roads may be in good driving condition around your community, but just down the highway it might be a completely different story.
Alaska Highway - BC section - Highway 97
Stewart Cassiar Highway - Highway 37 Road Conditions (Kitwanga to BC/Yukon Border)
Weather, especially in the Yukon, can change unpredictably. Before you head out on your adventure be sure to check the weather forecast and bring the appropriate gear.
In Yukon it is always a good idea to bring warm clothing along – no matter of the time of year. As we all know, it can snow in May and June – so be prepared for it!
- Avalanche Canada includes links to the Canadian Avalanche Centre, the Canadian Avalanche Foundation, the Canadian Avalanche Association and the International Snow Science Workshop.
- Environment Yukon has some great publications and information on wilderness safety. Visit their information on Heading into the Yukon Wilderness and Bear Safety. The department's website also has a wealth of information on hunting and trapping, parks and conservation areas, as well as map and publication data.
- Yukon Search and Rescue
- Yukon Emergency Measures Organization
- British Columbia Adventure Smart
- Winter Driving Tips
- Canada Safety Council
- NorthernSAR (Northern Search and Rescue)
- Parks Canada - Planning a safe visit
Wilderness Safety/Travel Tips
Outdoor Travel Tips
Be prepared for your trip: Have a trip plan and stick to your turnaround time. Take the necessary equipment for your outing, take the essentials, bring guidebooks and maps. Be sure you are physically prepared for your adventure.
Complete a trip plan (such as the Yukon Smart Travel Plan) and leave it with a responsible individual: the trip plan explains where you are going, how you are getting there, what you brought with you, who is with you and when you are returning. If you do not return at your indicated time, the person you left it with can contact the RCMP to initiate a search if necessary.
Never travel alone: If at all possible never travel alone. Go at the speed of the slowest person, and do not get separated. Keep in eyesight of each other when travelling.
Communicate with trip partners: Ask how people are feeling throughout the day. Pushing someone past their physical or mental limits could be a recipe for disaster. Individuals might not feel comfortable voicing their fears or acknowledging they are tired - so be sure to ask and rest, turn back or end your trip early for the day if needed.
Learn how to use your gear: Items like a compass, GPS, satellite phone or avalanche beacon will not be useful to you if you don't know how to use them. Before you head out practice using them. Reading the instruction booklet is likely not enough - hands-on practice will ensure you know how to use them if needed.
Navigate: be sure to have a navigational aid such as a map, compass, or GPS. As you travel through the wilderness, pay attention to your surroundings. Take note of landmarks, and periodically look back the way you came. Be aware of the distance you have travelled and the time. Reassess your destination goals and travel plans throughout the day.
If you become lost, or can’t find your way - don’t panic: Try to keep a positive mental attitude, remain calm and control your fears. Being lost is not dangerous if you are prepared.
Stay put: if you do become lost, stay put. People who continue on after they have become lost usually make it more difficult for the people trying to find them. Save your energy and stay in the vicinity where you lost your bearings.
Use signaling devices: blow a whistle, light a flare or a fire or use a signal mirror. Help searchers find you (even if you are embarrassed or afraid). Stay visible to help searchers find you.
Stay sober: Alcohol and drugs affect clear thinking, coordination and reaction time. Unwise decisions could be made.
Build or seek shelter: protect yourself from the wind, rain, snow and excessive sun. Remember to try to keep yourself visible to searchers in helicopters or planes. It can take several hours to build a shelter or collect fire wood, so do this early while you still have energy.
Stay warm: In Yukon, no matter what time of year you are traveling, you have to be prepared for all types of weather. Bring a warm jacket, toque, mitts/gloves and rain protection. Also bring a fire-starting device such as waterproof matches.
The most common mistake: Is people thinking "it could never happen to me." By being prepared you can enjoy your trip no matter what nature decides to throw at you!
- Travel smart. When traveling in the Yukon, it is important to let others know the details of your trip.