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The Basics - What to Know

Keeping Safe

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While much is done to keep visitors safe, ultimately, it is you who is responsible for your safety during your visit to a national park. Here are a few reminders to help you and your family stay safe while camping in a national park.

Weather

Never underestimate the power of weather. Before heading out on a day trip, a hike or an overnight camping trip, check the local weather forecast. This will help you plan – but be prepared for changes in weather, especially in the mountains or by bodies of water where conditions can change rapidly.

Always remember to protect yourself and your family from the sun. Wear a hat and sunglasses, and choose a sunscreen that is right for you to cover exposed areas of skin (don't forget your ears!). Wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts will also protect you from the sun's rays. If you are camping at high altitudes, exploring on, or near, a body of water, or visiting a snowy landscape, remember that the intensity of the sun increases in these environments and be vigilant.

You’ll also want to protect yourself from lightning. When storms move in, make sure to watch the weather and take precautions before the storm hits. For more information on lightning safety, please visit Environment Canada’s webpage at http://www.ec.gc.ca/foudre-lightning/default.asp?lang=En&n=159F8282-1.

Driving

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities in a national park, and can be much different than driving in familiar urban areas. When you are driving, remember the following: 

  • Always obey the posted speed limits 
  • Watch for other drivers in the park. They may be distracted by the beautiful scenery or lost. 
  • Watch out for cyclists. They may be difficult to see. 
  • Watch out for wildlife.

Wildlife

Do not approach or feed wildlife, and follow all rules provided at the national park you are visiting. It is impossible to predict how wildlife will react in any situation, so avoiding close encounters is the best way to keep you and your family safe and the wildlife wild.

For more information, visit the visitor centre at the park you are visiting, pick up a brochure and talk to our friendly staff.

Insects and plants

It is not uncommon to find biting or stinging insects in the outdoors, especially along trails and in campsites. Bring insect repellent and avoid wearing scented perfumes and lotions that attract insects.

Poison Ivy Poison Ivy
© Parks Canada

Some plants, such as poison ivy, can cause rashes and allergic reactions when touched. Often these plants are removed from common areas around campgrounds but you should keep an eye out for it along roads and trails.

To understand what to avoid and what to watch for, visit the park’s Web page or talk to the park staff at the visitor centre when you arrive.

Drinking water

Drinking lots of water is very important while you are active outdoors, especially on hot, sunny days. Make sure that you only drink potable water from reliable sources, such as the potable water taps found the campgrounds. Although water in streams, rivers and lakes is generally clean and may look good enough to drink, it may contain harmful bacteria or parasites. If you are unsure, just ask!