Safety at BC Hydro recreation sites

Hayward lake recreation site

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How to stay safe outdoors

The recreation sites we maintain offer a variety of outdoor activities, from swimming and boating to hiking and camping. By obeying signs notifying you of dangers and by following some simple safety rules, your time visiting the great outdoor spaces can by enjoyable and free from harm.

Get specific tips about water, hiking, campfire, and winter safety

Please note these general tips for keeping safe at our recreation sites:

  • Obey all warning signs and keep out of restricted areas.
  • Stay on designated trails and within observation areas. They’re clearly marked.
  • Always supervise children and help them to learn how to keep safe.
  • Be aware that water levels and flows may change suddenly. Sirens and strobe lights may be used to alert you that water levels will soon be changing.
  • Outdoor recreation can bring you in contact with wildlife including bears and cougars. Never feed wildlife. And to prevent your pets from getting into dangerous confrontations with wild animals, please keep pets under control at all times.
  • Out of respect for others who use our recreation sites, please keep your pets under control and out of areas where they’re not allowed, such as beaches designated for swimming.
  • Please respect the hours of operation of our recreation areas.
  • Obey the safety directions of all on-site BC Hydro representatives, including wardens and other recreation-area staff.
  • Firearms are never allowed.

In case of emergency

Contact: BC Hydro's on-site warden

Phone: 911

Contact: Your local RCMP detachment

Get details on water, hiking, campfire, and winter safety

Safety around water

Rivers, lakes, and reservoirs near BC Hydro generating stations can be great places for swimming and boating. Remember that water levels and flows may change quickly.

Supervise children closely at all times, especially when you are on or near water.

Alcohol and water-based activities don’t mix. A high proportion of drowning victims are young adults who are intoxicated.

Make sure you have fun by following these safety precautions:

Swimming

  • Obey all warning signs and keep out of restricted areas.
  • There are no lifeguards at any BC Hydro recreation areas.
  • Look before you leap. Hazards can be concealed under the surface of the water.
  • Children and those who can’t swim should wear personal floatation devices (PFDs) while in the water.
  • Many of our lakes are cold enough that if you get wet you could get hypothermia or be otherwise harmed by exposure.

Boating

  • Obey all warning signs and keep out of restricted areas
  • If you're not prepared to get wet, you're not prepared to be in a boat.
  • Everyone in a boat or canoe, even an inflatable model, must wear an approved personal floatation device (PFD). It won't work if you don't wear it.
  • Every boat or canoe must have a whistle or other noisemaker that can be used to signal for help in the event of an emergency.
  • Don't overload your watercraft with people or gear.
  • Check the forecast before you head out and watch for changes in the weather.
  • Keep outside of safety booms and buoys, and away from all dam structures.
  • Watch for floating debris and hazards concealed under the surface of the water.
  • Never stop, anchor, or tie your boat below a dam. Water flows can change quickly, swamping your boat or creating a dangerous undertow.
  • Be back on shore 30 minutes before the recreation area closes.
  • Boaters must practice safe boating at all times. Follow the guidelines and regulations set out by Transport Canada's Office of Boating Safety

Learn more about keeping safe on the water from the Office of Boating Safety, a division of Transport Canada:

In partnership with preventable.ca, we encourage you to act safe and look out for each other:

Safety when hiking

Note the closing times of the recreation area you're visiting and make sure you leave enough time for your return. You should also make sure that you're not starting your hike too late in the day. You'll need sufficient daylight to not only follow the trail to your destination, but also to return to your starting point.

Be prepared by:

  • Making sure you're physically fit enough and have planned enough time to complete the journey. Many people get into trouble because they end up having to find their way in the dark.
  • Never hike alone. Trek with a group and stay together.
  • Let friends and family know where you're going and when you plan to be back.
  • Carry a cellular phone but be aware that in some remote areas, you may not have service.
  • Always carry the 10 essentials
  • Check the forecast before you head out, and watch for changes in the weather. It's normal in British Columbia for weather to change rapidly.
  • Know what to do if you encounter wildlife. Bears and cougars are the most dangerous, but even deer can be aggressive.

The strategy for dealing with wildlife encounters depends on the type of animal.

  • Learn more about bears in recreation areas
  • Learn more about cougars in recreation areas

If you get lost:

  • Don't panic. Keep a positive attitude.
  • Stay where you are. Continuing on may only get you more lost and will make it more difficult for searchers to locate you if you move into an area that has already been searched, for example.
  • Find shelter or build something if you can, to protect yourself from the element.s
  • Don't go "downhill" becuase that can lead to steep cliffs, narrow ravines and waterfalls.
  • Use a signalling device to help people find you. Blow a whistle, light a fire, and stay visible.

Safety around campfires

Open fires are permitted only in designated locations and must be supervised by someone 16 years of age or older. Fires create a risk of forest fires and the smoke is a pollutant, so only start a campfire when you need one.

Campfires are not allowed when bans are in effect.

Firewood is available for a small fee. Cash only, please. Please don't collect firewood from the recreation area. That material is important for the survival of many plants and animals.

Be sure to follow these fire safety rules:

  • Keep your campfire contained within the metal fire ring.
  • Your fire shouldn’t be higher than the metal fire ring.
  • Don't light a fire if there are high winds.
  • Use a campfire only to cook food and to keep warm.
  • Don't burn garbage in your campfire.
  • Fully extinguish your fire when you're done. Flip over all wood, pour water over the coals and embers, and stir everything around. You should be able to put your hand in the ashes without feeling any heat.

If you see a forest fire

Phone: 1 800 663 5555

Find out about campfire bans from the B.C. Ministry of Forests:

Safety in the winter

During the winter, keep off the ice. It's not safe to ice fish, skate, ski, snowmobile, or walk on the ice. Rapid temperature changes can cause ice to melt and the ice around our facilities may be weak because of changing flows and water levels. Other ice hazards can include:

  • Pressure ridges
  • Gas holes
  • Ice bridges, where large gaps between the ice and the surface of the water are present
  • Broken shoreline ice

Extreme cold temperatures and winds can also be dangerous to those using recreation sites in the winter.