DURING THE PERIOD FROM NOVEMBER 1, 2012 – APRIL 30, 2013 EMERGENCY SERVICES MAY BE UNAVAILABLE, LIMITED OR SIGNIFICANTLY DELAYED
Planning a safe visit to a national park
During all seasons, especially winter, park visitors are responsible for their own safety and must be self-sufficient in dealing with any emergency that may occur.
Cell phone service is unreliable in the backcountry of RMNP
© Parks Canada / Bob Reside
You are responsible for your safety. Parks Canada can help you prepare by assisting you with trip planning, and providing you with information.
The natural environment can be hazardous if you are not prepared. Trip planning means thinking about possible factors that could compromise your comfort and safety, and making the appropriate adjustments in gear, time allocations, and expectations. It means being ready for the unexpected.
Responsibility of Visitors
Visitors are expected to plan and prepare for their trip before they leave home. Travelers in all seasons should be self reliant and fully prepared to deal with any mishaps which may arise on their outings.
To do this, they must:
- recognize the risk inherent in their activities and ensure that they have the knowledge, skills and physical fitness to participate.
- get trained, be properly equipped, and be prepared to survive until help arrives.
- seek and heed advice from Parks Canada staff concerning risks and hazards, and how to prepare for them.
- observe and adhere to regulations, fencing, barriers, and signs.
- Be aware of surroundings (i.e. wildlife encounters, hazardous terrain) at all times and avoid areas where the potential for injury is high.
- Ensure that you are familiar with any equipment/gear being used.
- Be aware of the local area.
Trip Planning Tools
AdventureSmart, a national program dedicated to encouraging Canadians and visitors to Canada to “Get informed and go outdoors.”
Hours of Operation
Important Contact Numbers
Emergency (police, fire, ambulance)
Parks Canada Dispatch 1-877-852-3100
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Safe Winter Outing
In order to make the most of your outing and avoid any unpleasant incidents, here are a few guidelines to follow:
Plan your outing around the weather forecast, snow conditions, and the distance you will be travelling. Travel in groups of at least three people.
Plan to get back before nightfall.
Inform someone of your itinerary.
- Obtain weather forecasts.
- Clothing for environmental conditions, including sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Ski within level of ability; maintain an adequate level of fitness and physical conditioning.
- Carry adequate food and water.
- Be familiar with the area and any local hazards; travel in three or more especially on overnight or extended trips.
- Maintain awareness of local snow and ice conditions.
- Know your limitations and periodically assess condition of others especially with regards to cold, dehydration, and exhaustion.
Make sure you’re equipped to survive several hours in the cold. In case of an emergency situation, here is a list of suggested items:
- A warm change of clothing
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Fire-starting kit
- First aid kit
- Survival shelter
- Orientation and communication kit (park map, compass, GPS, cellular phone, etc.)
- Enough food and water
- Snowshoes and/or cross-country skiis
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. The usual causes of hypothermia are a combination of cold, damp, wind and exhaustion. Most cases develop in air temperatures between -1° C and 10° C. Treatment of hypothermia involves supplying heat to the victim.
Prevention is the best option:
- Avoid exposure,
- Stay dry, and beware of chilling wind,
- Use warm clothing and good rain gear (wool and some synthetic clothing insulates when wet),
- Change damp undergarments,
- Avoid overheating in order to prevent excessive perspiring with resultant energy loss,
- Eat foods high in fats and carbohydrates,
- Make camp before exhaustion sets in.
Learn how to identify hazardous ice and plan safe travel routes on ice.
Traveling over ice:
- Continually assess ice condition as appropriate to season and local conditions.
- Avoid areas of overflow, rapidly flowing water, open leads, pressure ridges, flow edge.
- Carry extra clothing and emergency kit (even on day trips).
- When walking on glare ice, one should use traction aids on footwear.
For further information consult Red Cross and Lifesaving Society
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For Your Safety
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure . Public safety is one of our primary concerns but you are responsible for your own safety. We hope the following tips will help make your holiday safe and enjoyable.
Respect all posted speed limits . They are necessary for your safety and the safety of the wildlife.
Store food in food storage containers now located at all primitive campsites throughout the Park. If you are tenting near your vehicle, store your food in a cooler and put it in the trunk of your car.
Use fish-scaling tables where available. This confines the scent, which may attract bears, and fish remains to one area away from your campsite.
Put garbage away . Use the bear-proof garbage containers located in Wasagaming and all of the camping and picnic areas. If in the backcountry, burn or carry out your garbage and leave the site clean for someone else's use and enjoyment.
Do not feed or approach bears, bison or other wildlife . You are in Bear Country brochures are available at most Park facilities.
Buddy up and let someone know when and where you are going into the backcountry and when you expect to return. If at all possible, do not go into the backcountry by yourself.
Bison are wild animals and can be dangerous, so please do not get out of your vehicle unless you are at the Bison Exhibit.
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How can I easily identify poison ivy?
This plant is usually found along roadsides or trails. Each leaf has three pointed leaflets. The edges of the leaflets are smooth or slightly toothed. Leaf colour is reddish in spring, dull satin green in summer, and various shades of yellow, orange, red or bronze in autumn. Poison Ivy can also be indentified by its woody stem.
Poison Ivy in Riding Mountain National Park of Canada © Parks Canada
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Swimmer's Itch: Problems & Solutions
What is Swimmer's Itch? "Swimmers Itch" or "water rash" is the name given to a temporary skin irritation acquired by swimmers.
Swimmers Itch Life Cycle © Parks Canada
Swimmer's Itch Symptoms
Tingling Sensations: Shortly after emerging from the water, swimmers will notice a tingling sensation on exposed parts of the body.
Swimmers will next notice small red spots where the organism has penetrated the skin.
Hours later, the tingling sensation will disappear, and the red spots will enlarge and become itchy. The degree of discomfort varies with the sensitivity of the individual, the severity of the infestation and prior exposure.
Waterproof sunscreen or baby oil provides a greasy barrier over the skin that prevents the Itch parasite from entering the pores. Showering and toweling off immediately after swimming also reduce the chances of the Itch.
- Avoid Swimmer's Itch beaches
- Toweling down
- Avoid areas with aquatic plants
- Use of a fragrant suntan oil
- Chemical control
What can you do if a rash appears:
There are two main ways of treating The Itch, either through a topical medicine or taking antihistamines. Topical cures include: a baking soda paste, Aveeno Anti-Itch cream, calamine lotion, After Bite, Solarcaine and Stop Itch. (Note: to make a baking soda paste, mix a small amount of baking soda and water to form a light paste and then apply to afflicted areas. If the Itch is really bad, recommend a warm bath in baking soda.) Anti-histamines are usually found in allergy medications and the most common medications for treating the itch are Chlor-Tripolon (turquoise box) and Benadryl (brown and white box).
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Drinking water in the great Canadian outdoors
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We expect that you:
- are aware of the natural hazards and are properly equipped and provisioned;
- have adequate knowledge, skill and fitness level;
- are prepared for emergencies.
Need more information? We'd like to help you with:
- natural hazards information
- backcountry trip planning
- route information and advice
- voluntary safety registration for high-risk activities.
Riding Mountain National Park
Telephone: (204) 848-7275
Fax: (204) 848-2596
TTY/TDD : (204) 848-7171