Canada attracts many visitors from all over the world every year. The country is filled with attractions and incredible natural sights ranging from bright blue lakes to world-famous mountain peaks. Visiting any of them is a truly extraordinary experience, but you can only really relax and enjoy the ride when you know you’re safe! Different terrains, diverse wildlife and a vast collection of plants create not only stunning travel opportunities, but possible hazards that you need to be aware of as well.
Follow our tips, take care of your safety, and don’t let anything get in between you and your great vacation in Canada!
Canada is divided into 39 natural regions. Canadian national parks were created to represent and showcase each of these areas. The first national park in Canada, Banff National Park, was established in 1985. Since then, national parks have represented and protected the natural phenomena and landscapes that occur in Canadian regions.
Safety in national parks covers the protection of the environment and visitors alike. Safety instructions may differ from park to park and you should always learn more about a specific park’s wildlife and terrain before you go there.
Remember, the National Park Service is always available if there’s an emergency — but let’s try to avoid that by following a few general tips meant to keep you safe in Canada’s national parks:
Whether you’re walking, biking, or hiking, stick to the designated trails. If you stay on them and follow the posted signs, you’ll see most of the park without getting lost. All the trails and signs are there for one of two reasons – to help you find your way around and to preserve nature. You wouldn’t want to step on a rare plant or accidentally ruin a rodent's home, would you? Stay on the trails!
Canadian National Parks are home to a myriad of wild animals, including bears, wolves, cougars, and other natural predators. You’re more likely to spot them in national parks than anywhere else, meaning that the parks are a great place for wildlife watching, however, you must remember that these are wild animals. No matter how harmless they look, always keep a safe distance (100-330 ft / 30-100m) from any wild animal. Even (especially) if it’s a cute little bear — the mother bear is nearby and ready to protect its family!
Some national parks have a “Bare” Campsite Program in place. You should only store food and any food-related items in a car, other types of secure vehicle, or food storage locker. Never leave food outside or inside your tent. This applies when you’re not using the food, including during night time or when you’re away from your camp.
You should not leave any food coolers (not even empty ones), rubbish and wrappings, pet food, pots, or bottles lying around. By keeping your campsite “bare”, you play an important role in keeping wild animals safe. If they stay away from campsites, they will stay wild and not become reliant on humans for food.
We can predict a wild animal’s behavior as long as it stays a wild animal. As soon as it is pet, fed or otherwise domesticated, it’s no longer acts like a wild animal. This is when animals can become especially dangerous. The key to wildlife’s continuing survival is treating them with respect and not threatening their “wildness”.
Feeding wildlife in a national park is illegal. Whether it’s done directly or indirectly, by leaving food or garbage lying around, you can be charged under the Canada National Parks Act. The Canada National Parks Service says “a fed animal is a dead animal” and by feeding wild animals you are endangering yourself, the animal, and any other people in the area.
Bear attacks are much rarer than people tend to think. There have only been only 67 fatal black bear attacks in North America during the more than 100 years that we’ve been recording them. It’s safe to say that the chances of being killed by a bear are very low. Far more bears are killed by humans than vice versa.
Attacking people without any provocation is abnormal bear behavior and it tends to be more common in remote areas, where bears don’t have much interaction with humans.
While still relatively low, the number of polar bear attacks has been going up in the past few years. This is due to increasing human-polar bear interactions as more polar bears spend time on shore. They’re forced to do so, because of the rapid ice melt over the past few years.
Grizzly bears don’t often attack people, and if an attack does happen, it’s most likely provoked by people being far too close to the animal. Free running dogs might also create a problematic situation. Be sure to always keep your pet on a leash.
In order to protect yourself, you should always carry bear spray with you. It’s highly effective against aggressive bears and it’s easy to use in a stressful situation.
Canada is dotted with impressive mountain ranges, including the Canadian Rockies and Mackenzie Mountains. They provide a range of activities, from skiing to mountain biking and climbing. However, whenever you’re in the mountains, you should be careful. Steep slopes, falling rocks, and sharp peaks might prove dangerous to anyone who comes unprepared.
If you’re getting ready for a holiday tour, you should always pay attention to the equipment lists provided, especially when it comes to mountain-related activities. On many occasions, you can rent some of the necessary equipment, but it’s always useful to familiarize yourself with the gear beforehand. If you go on a guided tour, then your expert guide will help you with this process.
Mountain activities can be fun, but they can also be dangerous. Whatever activity you choose, it’s always a good idea to have a local guide lead you. They know the mountains like the back of their hand and are there to make sure you’re safe. If you find an expert local guide, you can trust them to help you during every step of your trip – from choosing the right gear and appropriate clothing to finding the best secret spots in the area.
If you’re traveling on your own or in a group without an expert guide, make sure you’re familiar with basic wilderness survival skills. You can take specific courses to learn these skills or learn them by traveling with a survival guide. Finding food and water, knowing how to start a fire, and knowing how to set up a campsite are just a few of the things that will come in handy when staying in nature. You can never be over-prepared!
Road trips are perfect for visiting multiple sights in one go. Drive yourself or choose to relax, sit back in a comfy seat, and enjoy great views through the window of a bus or van tour. But before you do, here are some things you should know:
Drivers should familiarize themselves with road laws before driving in a new country. For example, like in many other countries, you’re only allowed to use your mobile phone in hands-free mode while driving. You’re not allowed to smoke in a vehicle with a minor inside the car. And, of course, you should always pay attention to speed limits and road signs.
When you spot wildlife near highways, think twice before pulling over. The signal it sends to the animals is that cars and roads are nothing to be afraid of. Because of this, too many wild animals are killed on the roads every year.
Driving in Canada in the winter can be extremely hazardous. You should have your mobile phone fully charged and keep an emergency kit with you if you’re traveling in snowy weather. More importantly, make sure that your vehicle is winter-ready. Many provinces have legal requirements that force cars to attach accessories such as snow tires. If you have any doubts and you are unsure your vehicle can handle the journey, please consider renting a better-equipped car.
Canada does have a great healthcare system, but it’s only for Canadians. If you get injured while visiting the country and don’t have adequate insurance, you could end up having to cover large medical bills.
The best way to solve this issue is to make sure you travel with health insurance that covers every potential medical expense in Canada.
Hopefully, you won’t need this number — however, in case of an emergency dial 911.