Phoenix Fire crews urge hiking safety as temperatures rise

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or brand new to Arizona, Phoenix Fire says it’s always worth repeating that hydration is key.
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 7:48 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Phoenix Fire crews rescued an injured hiker off of South Mountain Monday morning after she slipped and hurt her ankle, which is not uncommon this time of year.

“One thing we like to tell people is, get proper footwear,” said Captain Todd Keller. “This is not the same footwear that you’re going to go out to run on the treadmill.”

This comes after several mountain rescues over the weekend in Phoenix, including a 66-year-old who was too weak to make it down the 40th Street trailhead and two others who got lost on South Mountain. So far this year, Phoenix Fire says they have had 63 mountain rescues, which is less than this same time last year when it was 71. But with so many spring visitors and people moving to our state for the first time, crews are pushing hiking safety and education.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or brand new to Arizona, Phoenix Fire says it’s always worth repeating that hydration is key. An easy rule of thumb? When half of your water supply is gone, turn back around.

While triple digits aren’t in the forecast quite yet, it’s inevitable in the Valley. After a pilot program last summer, this will be the first official year where specific trails on Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak will close when the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning.

“These firefighters aren’t just going on mountain rescues,” Keller said. “They are going back to the fire station; they are going to house fires. They are going to car accidents. They are going on medical calls. So one thing we like to say: pick the right time to go hiking. Choose the cooler parts of the day. That’s early morning, late afternoon.”

Last year Phoenix Fire launched the “Take a Hike. Do it Right” campaign, which they think helped lower numbers so far this year. A few other reminders: Stay on the trails. Carry a charged cellphone. Hike with others, or make sure you tell someone exactly where you are going. And also, be honest with yourself. Don’t push yourself on the trails if you have asthma or other health conditions.