We are in the hottest time of year and thousands of avid hikers continue to lace up their hiking boots and hit the open trails across the country. Getting outside is a good thing no matter what time of year it is and there is plenty of beauty to enjoy in summer months. However, safety is paramount when you are hiking. By following some these hiking safety tips (C.H.E.C.K.), you will be on the right path this summer:
1. Check the Clock
Time your hikes around sunrise, so you can hike at the coolest part of the day. Temperatures quickly rise and you won’t want to get caught during peak hours and experience heat-related illnesses. If you do plan an evening or sunrise hike, ensure you have the proper lighting equipment.
2. Hydrate Yourself
Water is crucial while hiking and for staying hydrated during the dry, hot summer months. Be sure to drink a minimum of 16-20 fluid ounces before your hike—or the night before, if you have a sunrise hike—to prevent dehydration.
Carrying water during your hike is extremely important. Robert Porter, DO, emergency department director for Banner Goldfield Medical Center, recommends you drink a liter for every hour of hiking. “In the extreme heat, it can be even more water,” Dr. Porter cautions. “That’s a lot of water you need to carry, so you should really anticipate how much you’ll need.”
3. Expect Wild Things
Hiking in the outdoors means sharing the area with wild things—snakes, scorpions, bears and more. While climbing rocks, be mindful where you place your hands as you could be met with a sting or bite. The best thing to do is to stay on the trail path. Most of these critters won’t mess with you, unless you mess with them.
If you do encounter a snake, Frank LoVecchio, DO, medical toxicologist at Banner at University Medical Center Phoenix, says to walk the other way. “Snakes are very docile. If you get into its range, it might try to strike you. Most venom strikes are from those who try to catch a snake or throw rocks at them.”
4. Clothing is Not Optional
Although less clothing during the summer seems like the best option, it won’t provide the necessary protection you need. Instead choose lightweight, loose clothing that protects your skin from the sun—preferably moisture-wicking fabrics—along with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Quality hiking boots or trail shoes are a must and keep you from sliding down rocky slopes.
5. Know Your Limits (And Your Pets)
Don’t be one of the hundreds of hikers who need rescuing each year, because you didn’t follow C.H.E.C.K. No matter your abilities, routine or popular hikes can become dangerous when you overextend. Don’t plan on hiking the Grand Canyon on your first attempt. Most importantly, always tell someone where you are and when you plan on coming back.
You love your pets but hiking during the summer is not recommended. In fact, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board banned hiking with pets when temperatures are over 100 in 2016. Instead, look for dog parks or other covered recreational areas to ensure they get proper exercise in the hot summer months.