Parents and rescuers weigh in on outdoor safety for kids

Parents and a search and rescue expert are offering advice on keeping kids safe in the B.C. outdoors after a scary incident on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam over the weekend.

Two children from the United States were rescued, cold but not seriously hurt, after spending the night alone in a forested area of Burke Mountain in Coquitlam, B.C.

Michael Coyle with Coquitlam Search and Rescue said it's the kind of story that resonates with many people — especially parents.

"I'm a father and my son is eight," Coyle told B.C. Today host Michelle Eliot. "It is actually kind of hard to sleep when you know that the person is still missing."

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue

Fortunately, the weekend incident had a happy ending, but Coyle and others had tips for staying safe.

The girl who cried bear

Nathan Westrop, a father in Coquitlam, said his daughter used to joke about seeing bears on the trails in that city and yell out fake bear sightings — until the family came across one for real.

"Luckily somebody behind us had an air horn," Westrop said. "Well, my daughter now knows the story of the girl who cried bear and it's her."

"She sticks really close now. It could've ended a lot worse."

Coyle says kids, fortunately, tend to make a lot of noise which usually scares bears away.

Bear attacks are very rare in B.C., and animals want to stay away generally. The main thing to avoid is scaring them, Coyle said.

Techology to the rescue?

Earl Hummingbird of Surrey suggests that technology could help with situations like last weekend's incident on Burke Mountain. He thinks cell phone coverage needs to get better so people can call for help better.

Coyle agrees B.C.'s mountainous terrain is a problem for cell reception. One way around that issue is carrying a satellite locator beacon.

He said cell coverage is getting better, however, and rescuers are finding it easier to locate people.

Preparation key

Hannah Deboer of Nelson says kids need to learn how to orient themselves in the wilderness independently — a skill her mother taught her as a child.

"The forest can look very different when you're looking different directions, and she really sort of put that into us," Deboer said.

"Even now as an adult ... it really helps for not getting lost."

Raymond Haipee works with First Nation youth in Uclulet on outdoor skills and is a former search-and-rescue worker.

Haipee teaches them skills such as proper preparation like packing the right gear.

"What I do is have a whistle on each child and ... they get a little air horn with them," Haipee said.

Coyle agrees, saying  it's important to remember the AdventureSmart "three Ts:" training for the appropriate sport, trip planning and taking the essentials.

Listen to the full conversation: