Multiple agencies reminding people to be safe and use caution this long weekend

BC RCMP and other agencies are reminding the public to be safe and use caution this long weekend/Photo: BC RCMP

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the long weekend almost here, numerous agencies are reminding everyone to have fun but be safe.

The government of B.C. is reminding everyone that while most provincial recreation sites will be open, anyone planning to head outdoors should first check road conditions and visit the BC Parks website and Recreation Sites and Trails BC website for up-to-date information about site conditions, site closures and forest service road closures.

The government has offered the following tips for those involved in the following areas:

Flooding and landslides

* Given the heavy rainfall and meltwater runoff in some areas of the province over the past few weeks, everyone is urged to use caution in areas that are susceptible to high water flows, flooding and landslides.

* Avoid putting yourself in hazardous situations and stay as far away from floodwaters as possible. Just 15 centimetres of moving water can sweep people off their feet and as little as 60 centimetres can carry away most vehicles.

* Runoff and flood conditions can create numerous hazards, including road washouts, undercut banks, structural failures and water contamination. Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges, so be prepared and plan alternative routes in advance.

* If a road is flooded or is marked “closed”, turn around and use another route. Drivers should visit www.DriveBC.ca for up-to-date information about road conditions and closures. Information about forest service road closures is available online at: http://ow.ly/ZRdD30bMpd5

* For information on flood conditions and evacuation orders, visit Emergency Info BC: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca

Camping

* Many campgrounds have rules and guidelines specific to those locations and visitors must comply with the posted rules. Gates in provincial parks and some recreation sites close at 11 p.m., unless otherwise stated. Only registered campers maybe present in these campsites after 11 p.m.

* Excessive noise is not permitted. Please remember that sound can travel far in open air, especially music and loud talking. Liquor consumption is prohibited in parks except within your own campsite.

* To avoid problems with bears and other wildlife, lock up all food in a vehicle overnight. Use the garbage containers provided and maintain a clean campsite. Never feed or approach bears.

* Designated swimming areas that are marked by buoys are intended to protect swimmers. All watercraft and water-skiers must stay out of these areas.

Fire safety

* Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide. Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and wind may carry embers to other combustible material.

* Maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed right down to the soil.

* Never leave a campfire unattended.

* Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish your campfire. Make sure that the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

* Anyone who lights a campfire is legally responsible for making sure it doesn’t escape. They could be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if their negligence results in a wildfire. Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail.

* Anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle or dirt bike should have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle. Check the condition of the muffler, stay on dirt paths and avoid tall grass and weeds to reduce wildfire risks.

* Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking material responsibly, making sure that these materials are completely extinguished.

Off-road vehicles

* Most provincial parks are closed to off-road vehicle use unless otherwise posted.

* When riding off-road vehicles, respect the environment and use trails that are designated for motorized use. Keep vehicles out of sensitive sites that could be easily damaged, such as wetlands, grasslands, alpine areas and subalpine environments.

* Operators of all-terrain vehicles are reminded that these vehicles must be insured if they will be driven on forest service roads. For more information, visit: www.icbc.com/vehicle-registration/specialty-vehicles/Pages/Off-road-vehicles.aspx

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. To report suspicious activities, environmental damage or a natural resource violation, call 1 877 952-RAPP (7277) or *7277 on a cellphone.

The official start of boating season in B.C. is also happening this weekend. Boating BC President Don Prittie says boating is both safe and easy.

“Every year we see more and more people take up boating as a fun, safe and easy activity to explore our province,” says Prittie. “We’re optimistic that the 2017 boating season will be as active as ever. With over 27,000 kilometers of coastline and hundreds of lakes and rivers we have a simple message for British Columbians: Get out on the water but do it safely.”

They are reminding boaters to following these points:

  • Always where a properly fitted personal flotation device.
  • Never drink and boat.
  • Keeping emergency kits, navigation equipment and distress equipment onboard at all times.
  • Check weather conditions and patterns before leaving and during your trip.
  • Create a float plan before you leave so friends or family know where you’re going.

And finally, while you will be heading out to have some fun this weekend, police will be out and they will be watching.

BC RCMP says that they handed out 1,034 speeding tickets to drivers going above the posted limit on BC’s highways – and of those 143 were ticketed for excessive speed last year.

This weekend may be the traditional start of vacation season, but it is also the start of our summer enforcement season, warns Constable Melissa Wutke, spokesperson for the BC RCMP Traffic Service

During the May Long Weekend last year, there were also the following offences in B.C.:

  • 113 alcohol and drug infractions, including 45 drivers who were handed 90-day IRPs (Immediate Roadside Prohibitions) for failing a roadside impaired driving test
  • 76 violation tickets for use of an electronic device (distracted driving)
  • 34 tickets for unsafe passing

We want the motoring public to get to their destination safely, says Cst. Wutke. And if that takes handing out a few tickets, to help the public get the message, it’s worthwhile because we know our enforcement efforts will literally help save lives.

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