Fire Officials Urge Caution When Hiking After Record Number Rescues

It’s past noon and people are still braving the heat to get their work out in at the Bump and Grind Hiking Trail in Palm Desert.

Marcus Luna says he planned on hiking but decided against it last minute, “It’s too hot and I’m by myself and if anything were to happen to me then I would be out there by myself alone … it’s not safe.” 

Captain Fernando Herrera with Cal Fire Riverside County says Luna made the right choice. They’ve seen a big increase in hiking rescues. This month they’ve already had ten rescues, that’s five times the average.

He says COVID-19 stay at home orders are bringing out people to the few places that are open like hiking trails, “A lot of the folks are out they’ve venturing and hiking and making sure they get that daily exercise in but they’re not following some safety precautions.”

He says most of the rescues are due to dehydration, “A lot of folks do not hydrate well before they start their hike or  they don’t take enough water with them.” 

Another reason, people don’t know their limits.

Hiker David Rupple says he’s seen that first hand, “I’ve seen people be faint and have trouble breathing and I have seen a couple rescues. I saw a helicopter come in one time and take a lady off a mountain.” 

And people lose their footing on loose rocks when they lose focus or get tired.

“It would be be really easy to fall up here if you’re not really paying attention,” says Becki Lakes, who hikes the Bump and Grid often and adds she’s even seen snakes, that’s why she she’s extra cautious of where she steps.

Herrera  says there are some simple things you can do to stay safe when hiking:

  1. Hydrate before and after hike and take plenty of water.
  2. Research the trail.
  3. Never hike alone.
  4. Wear the right shoes.
  5. Take a fully charged cell phone and extra travel charger.
  6. Pack a first aid kit
  7. Be aware of wildlife, especially rattlesnakes this time of year and leave the wildlife alone.

Luna says it’s better to be prepared and take precautions, “Yeah, a lot of people think that oh that wouldn’t happen to me.”

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