Hiking safety tips amid Phoenix’s excessive heat warning

Firefighters say if you’re going to hit the trails, be smart about it.
Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 9:09 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The next few days are going to be hot. An excessive heat wave kicked off Saturday, meaning we are not out of the woods yet, with record-high temperatures expected across the Valley.

Firefighters say if you’re going to hit the trails, be smart about it. They advise you to come prepared and don’t go during the hottest parts of the day. Phoenix Fire said so far this August, there have been 19 total rescues in the city and 15 in July.

It doesn’t matter how hot it is; you can almost always find people on Valley trails. Bill Deaton is visiting from Dallas and came with a plan Saturday afternoon. “Especially coming this time of day, we make sure we’re just going to come out, do our three laps around here and get out of here,” he said.

Rian Romanello grew up in Phoenix and hikes multiple times a week. On Saturday, he climbed North Mountain. He thinks it’s a good thing the city closes certain trails when it’s extremely hot. “Definitely is. Yeah, because this one is not as long as some of the other ones, but it’s definitely real physical work. So it’s a lot on the body,” said Romanello.

But excessive heat warnings and stories of mountain rescues don’t deter determined hikers. “I have heard stories about it, so that’s why I carry this big gallon,” said Romanello.

Phoenix Fire Captain Kimberly Quick-Ragsdale says if you’re going to hike, don’t go alone. Make sure you know the trail, bring lots and lots of water, and have a charged cell phone. “The heat can sneak up on you. It can be overwhelming, and once it’s overwhelming, it’s too late, and you start feeling those symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, maybe heat cramps, dehydration that sort of thing. So, it can effect people of all ages,” said Quick-Ragsdale.

As a rule of thumb, firefighters say once you’ve drank half your water, it’s time to turn around. “It’s very, very important to understand how dangerous the trails can be. A lot of these are double-diamond trails. They’re very steep, rocky terrain; it’s extremely hot out,” said Quick-Ragsdale.

On Saturday, fire crews rescued two hikers on different Phoenix-area trails who overheated. The hikers are expected to be OK. A Scottsdale firefighter who responded to one scene was also treated for heat exhaustion but is OK now.

These calls can be taxing on first responders, who sometimes have to go up mountains multiple times a day to help hikers.

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