Hikers Need to Take Precaution Over High Temperatures

Created: 17 August, 2018
Last update: 20 April, 2022

By Ana Gomez Salcido

It has been a record-breaking hot summer in San Diego County. With temperatures hitting triple digits in the backcountry areas, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE San Diego, and other agencies have been busy rescuing hikers who didn’t prepare for the heat and sometimes treacherous terrain.

The Sheriff’s Department and the Cleveland National Forest have teamed up to make a new safety video to warn hikers of the dangers of hiking at Three Sisters Falls near Ramona. The authorities ask the community to watch it and learn how to prepare for any hike, especially an advanced one such as Three Sisters Falls. The video is available at the Sheriff’s Department Vimeo page.

Some of the tips to help people prepare for hiking in warm weather include picking hikes that are appropriate for their skills and physical condition of each person. Trails with low elevation gain are the safest option in intense heat.

Another recommendation is to check weather forecasts and know the terrain of the place people want to visit. Temperatures rise and fall with the sun, so an early hike or a hike late in the day is best.
Authorities ask hikers to let someone know where they will be and at what time they plan to return.

It is also recommended to hike with others, never alone. It is also recommended to bring plenty of water, and take more than people think it will need, and even more water on longer hikes or more strenuous terrain.
Another tip is to bring healthy snacks to hikes like non-perishable items like dried fruit, energy bars, trail mix, peanut butter, canned tuna, whole grain crackers, and jerky that provide fuel to boost the energy levels and to make up for lost calories.

It is also important to wear sun protection. Wear a hat and sunglasses, and be liberal with the sunscreen. Dress in layers of breathable, loose-fitting clothes that you can take on and off, based on the temperature and to prevent burns.

In addition to ample food and water, is important to bring extra sunscreen to reapply and a flashlight, first aid kit, multipurpose tool or knife and whistle.

To have a great hike, people need to wear appropriate footwear. Good boots provide grip in rocky and slippery areas, but they also provide a thick layer of protection from the ground’s heat.

A map will help people stay on track, preferably a pre-downloaded or paper version in case people lose cell phone reception.

People need to be aware of heatstroke. If the body temperature gets too high during a hike, people run the risk of suffering heatstroke. Heatstroke is usually caused by dehydration, which leads to the failure of the body’s natural temperature control system. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation, lack of sweat, and loss of consciousness. If people start to experience any of these signs, they need to stop and find a shady area along the trail where they can rest, drink water and refuel with a healthy snack. If symptoms persist, people need to call 911.

So far this year, the Sheriff’s ASTREA (helicopter) Unit has rescued 57 people. Of that number, 16 were rescued from Three Sisters Falls or Cedar Creek Falls near Ramona. The Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Unit regularly goes out to these hiking trails to inform the public about hiking safety, as well as help distressed hikers.