What you need to know to stay safe when hiking Phoenix mountains

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 14, 2011 at 6:44 AM

PHOENIX – With the gorgeous spring-like weather, more and more people are getting out and hiking the Valley’s mountains, but many of them are not prepared and get into trouble.

The Phoenix Fire Department responded to at least three mountain-rescue calls on Sunday alone. According to the city of Phoenix website, the Phoenix Fire Department goes on more mountain rescues each year than any other agency in the U.S.

Bruce Haffner talked to Capt. Scott Walker of the Phoenix Fire Department about what people need to know to stay safe while hiking. While most hiking safety tips are common sense, people often forget the basic rules.

One of the biggest things is hydration. Not only should you carry water with you, you should also drink plenty of fluids before you even head out to hit the trail. Dehydration can happen quickly, especially during the hot summer months, and can be extremely dangerous -- even deadly.

Walker also said it’s vitally important that people be properly dressed, which includes appropriate footwear with proper support. Twisted ankles are the most common injury firefighters see on mountain trails.

Hikers should always stick to the marked trails. Not only is straying off the trails dangerous, it can make it difficult for firefighters to find you should it become necessary.

In addition to carrying plenty of water, you should also make sure you have a charged cell phone. If you’re hiking in the early morning hours or into the evening, you should also carry a flashlight. A good option is an LED light that clips to your hat or clothing, leaving your hands free.

It’s important to remember that the parks are closed from dusk until dawn. It’s against the law to hike during that time.

Finally, never go hiking alone and always make sure somebody knows where you are and when you expect to return.

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