Chera Barrowman from the Lakelse Watershed Society and SAR volunteers Stephanie Clay and Michelle Holmes were at Furlong Bay at Lakelse Lake to raise awareness about water safety and survival skills on Aug. 24. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

Terrace Search and Rescue teaches water safety and wilderness skills at Furlong Bay

Partnering with Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society, public is encouraged to be cautious outdoors

Although summer’s coming to an end, Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) is advising the public to continue caution around water.

On Aug. 24, SAR and the Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society set up at Furlong Bay to teach water safety and survival skills.

Partnering together at Lakelse Lake, the two organizations aim was to raise awareness on how to be better prepared when participating in outdoor activities, especially near water.

“We’re so lucky to be around such beautiful lakes and rivers, and regardless of what season we’re in, the risks around those bodies of water still stay present,” says SAR volunteer Stephanie Clay.

“We’re putting an effort in year-round to get out and educate, especially children and families… so that people are just being thoughtful when they’re out doing the recreational activities they love.”

READ MORE: SAR partners with Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd. to improve emergency response

Clay says they had approximately 50 people stop by their stand, which featured a SAR vehicle with all their water rescue equipment and other tools they use on missions. Children were encouraged to try on gear and ask questions about their work.

“I think kids enjoyed checking out our command vehicle and hearing about all the different things that you can do if you join Search and Rescue one day,” she says. “We’ve also been talking with them a lot about avalanches and helicopters, all kinds of things that are pretty cool to them.”

Clay adds SAR’s goal is to offer as many prevention workshops as they can in the region to remind people to think ahead. By working with other local organizations, like the Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society, it also strengthens their connection with the community.

“Our hope as an organization is the more events that we can do like this, the fewer active searches that we will need to do,” she says. “We call upon community partners for help all the time… it’s really about teaming up and learning from each other so that we can be a better version of what we want to be doing.”

READ MORE: Skeena Voices | Man on a mission

Alongside water safety, the Hug-a-Tree and Survive program was another main focus of their event as they handed out kits to children that included an instructive colouring book, a whistle and a neon orange jacket. They spoke with kids on what to do if they were to get lost in the wilderness.

Following a recent overnight incident near Mackenzie, B.C., involving a four-year-old boy missing in the woods, rescuers later learned that he was afraid to come out of hiding during their search. Clay says more parents are keen to start that conversation with their children to avoid a similar situation.

“It’s actually a really common thing for kids to do, whether they are afraid that all they’re going to get in trouble or they’re afraid of strangers, it’s known to us that if you’re looking for a child, they may not be comfortable responding,” she says.

“The program really tries to make children familiar with who Search and Rescue is, what we’re doing, that we’re there to help and that they’re not going to be in trouble.”

READ MORE: Terrace Search and Rescue welcomes funding from province

As the construction of the new SAR headquarters at the corner of Greig Ave. and Clinton St. continues, Clay says their entire team is excited to finally have a home this year.

Currently, all their equipment and vehicles are stored in different locations through town. Crews have to make multiple stops to retrieve all their rescue equipment, which can make a difference during emergency calls when every minute counts. By having their own building, it will increase their response time and house a better training centre.

“If your loved one is in a precarious situation, even those extra minutes that are spent getting some equipment are valuable minutes,” says Clay. “We also want to make sure that we have our own space to learn and grow in.”

The Lakelse Watershed Stewards Society will be holding a Sockeye Salmon walk at Grungy’s Beach on Friday, August 30 at 7 p.m.

Want to donate or know more? Find Terrace SAR on Facebook or email them at

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