Summertime hiking safety tips
Beautiful Skyline Regional Park offers great opportunities for hiking and recreating, including challenging trails on the southern side of the White Tank Mountains. As the temperatures continue to rise in the Valley, remember to plan ahead before hiking during the summer months. These tips from the Buckeye Fire Medical Rescue Department can help you prepare and stay safe:
- Watch the weather: Yes, it’s a dry heat – but Arizona’s temperature can be deceiving and deadly. Hike when it’s cool outside. Try early mornings and evenings when there’s more shade.
- Don’t mess with monsoons: The sudden onset of high winds, dust, thunder and lightning, and intense rainfall can put hikers in a bad situation.
- Dress appropriately: Wear proper shoes, light clothing, a hat and sunscreen.It is recommended to wet your hat before you hike in extreme heat.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Drink water before you go and bring plenty with on the trails — even more than you think you need.Most mountain rescues involve hikers who are dehydrated and/or run out of water.
- Know when it's time to turn around: If your source of water is halfway gone, it's time to turn around. Water can be depleted quickly in extreme heat, putting you at a high risk for dehydration.
- Keep in contact: Carry a charged mobile phone.There are some areas with limited or no cell service in the White Tank Mountains.You may have to move to a separate location to find service.Keep track of the trail name you are hiking on as well as trail marker numbers.
- Team up: Hike with others. If hiking solo, tell someone your start and end times, and location.
- Be honest: Do you have a medical condition? Asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee or back problems? Don’t push yourself. (Even trained athletes have been caught off guard by getting dehydrated on Arizona trails.)Know the signs and symptoms of heat related illness.
- Don’t trailblaze: Enjoy the Sonoran Desert’s beautiful and undeveloped landscape, but stay on designated trails.
- Watch out for wildlife: Bee swarms, snakes and other wild life are prevalent on the desert trails.This is their natural habitat. Keep a safe distance from any potentially harmful animals or insects.
- Take responsibility and prepare: Don’t be “that person” – the one who was unprepared, shouldn’t have been there for health reasons or ignored safety guidelines. Be the responsible hiker, the one who takes a hike and does it right!
While these tips are especially important during the summer months, they are recommended for hiking year round. As always, Buckeye’s Fire Department is there to help you if needed. Technical Rescue Team Members train regularly on theses trails and are familiar with the terrain. If you are lost or experience some sort of medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.