Forest Service tips for staying safe while hiking in the summer heat
This past weekend alone, three people died while hiking in the Tucson area due to record heat.
Heat waves are not uncommon in Southern Arizona, but can quickly become dangerous.
With summer temperatures rising to all-time highs, and humidity staying low, Coronado National Forest is asking visitors to plan their outings accordingly and to use situational awareness.
Before you leave
Before you join the other visitors to the national park you should:
Become familiar with the area you plan to visit. Information can be obtained from visitor centers, ranger stations, websites, brochures and posted signs. Hikers and travelers should be well acquainted with the particular challenges of an area when it comes to terrain, access and wildlife. Know which spiny plants, large predators and venomous reptiles you are likely to come into contact with during your outing.
Check the forecast. Review the National Weather Service websites, local weather forecasts, or weather apps before you head out. If adverse weather is forecast, change your plans. If it’s too hot, just stay in.
Share your plans. Keep others informed about where you are going, when you plan to leave leave and when you plan to return. During excessive heat warnings it is recommended that outdoor activity be restricted to the coolest times of the day, in the early morning or later evening hours.
Come prepared for your hike. Wear appropriate shoes, a wide-brimmed hat and loose, light-colored clothing. Carry sunscreen, snacks, drinking water and a fully-charged cell phone.
Bring some friends: It is strongly advised that you never hike alone.
Know your limitations and listen to your body: Is you strength and endurance a good match for the hike you have planned? This is not the time to test your limits. Consider a shorter easier trail, walk in a loop or at a higher elevation. You may even want to consider postponing and taking a walk indoors.
If you do go make sure to rest, rehydrate and return to your starting point at the first signs of discomfort.
Learn the signs of head-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating and symptoms include headache, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, weakness, heavy sweating, cold, clammy skin and a fast, weak pulse. Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat-related illness and symptoms include confusion, fainting, seizures, high body temperature, rapid, strong pulse, hot, red or dry skin, and even loss of consciousness.
Visitors under the affects of heat exhaustion should sit or lie down in a cooler location, remove and loosen their outer clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to their bodies and take sips of water. If the symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
If you or another hiker are under the affects of heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Move the victim to a cooler environment, remove and loosen their clothing.
Prevention is the best course of action. By being prepared and researching a trip, visitors can safely enjoy the outdoors during these hot summer months.