and most folks are thinking of easy, inexpensive vacations for the
whole family. Hiking and camping are easy: campgrounds and parks
are close and the price is usually right: an enjoyable ‘family
togetherness’ while experiencing nature up close.
Yet the news seems
to continuously focus on missing campers and hikers too often ending
in tragedy. Many people are not prepared adequately for their wilderness
is provided by the San Gorgonio Search and Rescue Team, a group
of dedicated volunteers who care what happens to people when they
are lost in the ‘wild’.
Who will miss you?
Before leaving your home make sure someone knows all of the important
details of your trip:
- When will you be leaving?
- What route will you be taking
and where will you be camping/hiking?
- Who is going with you? Provide
physical descriptions, ages, and experience levels of your group.
- Provide detailed descriptions
(colors, sizes, brand names) of everyone’s clothing, backpacks,
boots, tents and other equipment.
- What time will you be home?
- Have a preset time that you will
check in with your contact person to let them know you are home
and instruct them to call 9-1-1 if you do not check in.
planned a realistic trip?
Know the abilities of everyone in your group. Do not plan more in
one day than the weakest person in your group can do. Research distances
and elevation gains to set realistic goals.
Are You Prepared?
Always carry the “TEN ESSENTIALS” with
A. To find your way:
1. Map of the area
2. Compass or GPS
(and know how to use them)
3. Extra light
source and extra batteries
B. For your protection:
5. Extra food and
water (water purification system)
6. Extra clothes
(layers, no cotton)
C. For Emergencies:
7. Extra matches,
lighter or other fire source in a waterproof container
8. Candle or other
long burning fire source for heat and light
9. Pocket knife
10. First Aid kit
(know how to use it).
If your group becomes lost, STOP immediately. Find a safe place
to set up shelter and wait for rescuers to find you. Rescue personnel
will find you a lot faster if you are not moving. To keep from getting
lost, stay together. Groups usually don’t get lost, but one
or two stragglers will if the rest of the group is not paying attention.
Put slower hikers at the front of the group and never separate.
If a member of your party is injured, the group needs to stop immediately
and find a safe place to treat the victim. Assess the situation
and decide whether the person can be helped out by your group or
if you will need help. If help is needed, send someone or begin
to signal for help. Remember that three of anything – whistle
blasts, shouts, flashing lights – is the universal distress
call. Get the injured person into a shelter, tent, tarp, or bivy
sack and stay where you are. If you must move the victim, take great
care not to injure them further. Make sure that everyone stays hydrated
and ration food so that you can keep up your strength. Before leaving
know where the nearest phone is to your vehicle in case you need
to get help quickly.
There are very few places in the wilderness where cell phones work.
Cell phones should not be relied upon as the only source of communication
in case of an emergency.
In summer mountain temperatures will be at least 10-20 degrees cooler
than in the valleys. It is often windy at higher elevations. Always
layers of clothing. Shorts, pants, a fleece sweater and a waterproof
shell, sunglasses, sunscreen, and head covering are easy to pack
and easy to carry.
Thunderstorms can come on very quickly
in the wilderness. Watch the sky carefully throughout the day. If
you see lightning, get off the mountain as soon as possible. Stay
off peaks and ridges and out of open areas. Find shelter among dense
trees and in lower areas.
Bring extra clothes to change into
when you are wet. Wet clothes make it difficult to stay warm. Even
in mild temperatures wet clothing can cause hypothermia. COTTON
KILLS! Cotton is the worst material to be wearing in the wilderness.
When it is wet, it pulls heat away from the body.
Remember the “TEN ESSENTIALS”
and prepare for the worst.
Summer usually means heat. Nothing
seems more refreshing than a cool splash of mountain spring water.
However, very few places
in our mountains are safe to swim in—no matter HOW experienced
you or your companions may be.
DO NOT give in to the temptation
of wading or swimming in an unknown creek, pool, stream, brook,
pond, canal, channel, waterway, river, lake, etc. Safe swimming
spots are clearly designated on maps, web sites, and can be identified
for you by Forest Rangers, local law enforcement, and Parks and
Even wading along shorelines can
be dangerous: an accidental slip and a person can be tumbled and
carried away in less time than it takes to gasp a breath. Mountain
currents are extremely swift and surprisingly strong; rocks can
be slippery and sharp.
In worst cases these hazards may
cause the unwary to drown. STAY AWAY FROM THESE SHORELINES and KEEP
YOUR CHILDREN AND PETS SAFE.
WILD ANIMAL PRECAUTIONS
Thanks to conservation and wild land
preservation efforts, wild life in our mountains and deserts are
increasing. Some of the varieties may appear cute and cuddly, but
THEY ARE STILL WILD ANIMALS.
animals carry diseases, fleas, and ticks which may infect humans.
Wild animals may also attack humans without provocation or warning.
Be safe: never go
out into the wilderness alone. Do not allow small
children out of your sight (not even in designated recreational
areas or parking lots). If confronted with a wild animal, make lots
of noise and try to appear BIG. Do not rush at
a wild animal or follow it into underbrush. Contact the local forest
rangers as soon as possible to report an encounter.