It is always shocking and saddening to hear of a deadly tragedy in the great outdoors, like the drowning of the teenagers at Nicola Lake. Nature is supposed to be a place of enjoyment and relaxation. However, for the ill-prepared, the careless or the overly confident, nature can quickly turn into an unforgiving and deadly trap.

Dangerous situations can, and often do, happen quickly and unexpectedly. I remember one evening when I went out hunting, I just wanted to go for a quick look. When I came upon fresh tracks in the snow, I followed them and promptly got lost in time and place. Then it got dark but I was thinking, “No problem, I have the GPS with me,” thinking it would guide me back to my vehicle. Yes, it would have, but in the hurry of following the tracks, I left my reading glasses in the vehicle and without them I couldn’t read the GPS. Because it was cloudy, there were no stars or moon to provide even the faintest light to see where I was going. I was lost but eventually made it back to my vehicle which had my reading glasses plus all the survival gear. Getting lost was a mistake which could have easily turned into a tragedy if it had happened to a less experienced person or if weather conditions would have suddenly turned worse. Since that day, I always make sure to carry my survival kit with me, especially my reading glasses. I learned my lesson and will never again get “misplaced” for a few hours in the bush.

The best chance to survive in nature is to be familiar with the elements – land and water. Check the weather forecast before leaving home. Always carry and use the proper gear and safety equipment for the activity you do. Never take your well-being too lightly or be over confident in your abilities. Over confidence killed a very good friend of mine many years ago. At the time, I lived in Illinois where we hunted from treestands. I always wore a safety harness that could be quickly converted into a lineman climbing harness to ascend and descend trees. My friend often joked about my lineman harness saying: “Only sissies wear that.” One day I got a phone call from a mutual friend saying that this same man was dead. He had slipped on the icy metal step of the tree-ladder and fell on his back – only four feet from the ground. Without a phone and not having left a note back home saying where he was going and when he planned to be back, he had laid badly injured for several hours in sub-freezing temperatures on the forest ground. When help finally came it was too late – he was dead. The scout motto,”Be prepared at all times and do the right thing at the right moment,” will go a long way to ensure safety in all your outdoor activities.