KAMLOOPS — It’s the unofficial kick-off to summer - the Victoria Day Long weekend is traditionally the first warm-weather weekend of the season where people pack up their tents and trailers and head to the lake. For most, it’ll be a relaxing weekend, filled with friends and good times, but all it takes is a small mistake or accident to turn that fun into a serious situation.
With winter finally over, May Long Weekend is usually the first opportunity many British Columbians pack up their camping gear and head out into the bush, for some recreation and relaxation.
“We’re just trying to get away from town, trying to get away from the daily hustle and bustle, and maybe get some fishing’ in,” said Rayleigh resident Mario Morete.
“I do it every year, with a bunch of family and friends,” Armstrong resident Travis Odiorne told CFJC Today.
Up at Paul Lake Provincial Park, even the overflow sites are full for the weekend. With so many people heading to the lake in search of warm weather, Search Manager for Kamloops Search and Rescue Alan Hobler says it’s important to stay safe when you’re on or even near water at this time of year.
“For every person in Canada, that’s killed by a bear or cougar… 20,000 people drown,” Hobler said. “By far your biggest risk this long weekend is drowning, and it’s easily prevented by wearing a PFD [Personal Floatation Device] or life jacket.”
It’s also important to remember that with warm weather comes a greater chance of wildfires. (MAX Sound Up) Fire Information Officer Max Birkner wants to remind anyone heading out into the area's forests to make sure they practice proper fire safety.
“The Kamloops Fire Centre is asking the public… to be very careful with their fire use, especially with campfires if they’re out in the backcountry,” Birkner said, adding “If they’re going to be riding diatribes or ATV’s… keep those out of the long grass.”
Even if you’re only heading out for a day hike, Hobler says it’s important to be prepared in for any situation.
“Usually people will head out on a trail or some other activity, and won’t bring anything with them,” he says
For many long weekend campers, they enjoy slowing things down while out at the lake.
Travis Odiorne enjoys being “out, away from the city, no cell service, no internet, no nothin’.”
Staying safe on the water, and keeping your campfire in check is one way to ensure everyone else can have a relaxing long weekend, as well.
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