Before hitting the Arizona’s trails, consider these six tips for safety.
Phoenix police, fire and parks officials met at Piestewa Peak on Tuesday morning to promote hiker safety.
Seventy-seven hikers have been rescued from Phoenix trails this year through March 20. Last year, there were 279 rescues within Phoenix.
Fire Capt. Jake Van Hook said calls for rescue have steadily increased over the past five years.
“We train together, we work together, to be able to do these rescues the way that they have to be done frequently,” Van Hook said. “With the temperatures warming up, and people (here) for spring break and of course for the Final Four, we have lots of visitors … lots of people visiting our parks.”
Sgt. Alan Pfohl, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman, said a lot of the rescue efforts are for out-of-town visitors, but many involve Phoenix residents, as well.
Reasons for rescues include not planning ahead, failure to use available weather apps, not wearing proper footwear or hiking alone, said Pfohl. He added that children who are too young to be hiking difficult trails is also an issue.
“Parents have a responsibility for their children,” Pfohl said. “To bring a child out onto an extremely difficult trail when the child has no experience, or if they think they’re going to carry a small child on a trail, that just adds danger.”
‘Take a Hike, Do It Right’
In an effort to reduce the number of mountain rescues, the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department launched the “Take a Hike, Do It Right” campaign last year to educate visitors about hiking safety, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism website.
“We want to encourage people to come out and enjoy our parks,” said Van Hook, “but we also want them to do it safely.”
Mark Sirota, a park ranger with the city of Phoenix, said the campaign was thought up by rangers, and part of the outreach means educating concierges at Valley hotels and resorts who provide information to guests about things to do.
“It has made a big difference,” Sirota said. “We’re seeing the concierges are giving written material out that’s more accurate, and we also see that people are coming out with more water and a better understanding of the trail they’re about to take.”
Sirota also talked about the danger of bees while hiking, mentioning that a climber on Camelback Mountain died a couple years ago after coming across a swarm of bees, getting stung and then falling.
Sirota said a simple insect hood that is a little less than $2 could save your life. Hikers can put the hood in their bags and put it on later if a swarm of bees comes along, said Sirota.
“We’re working on multiple programs to bring the message to the public so they can have a safe and enjoyable hike,” Sirota said. “And we do that because we truly care. Nobody should be dying over a hike. We want people to take a hike and do it right.”
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