When it gets hot, take extra caution when hiking


With the recent rescue of two hikers from trails near Lake Poway, now is a good time to learn how to hike safely in the summer heat.

Rodney Ortiz, chief of the Poway Fire Battalion, said the fire department was looking to rescue hikers as the weather warmed, including the two earlier this month. Both hikers were on the Lake Poway Trailhead to Potato Chip Rock, a popular hiking destination. Ortiz said many hikers are unaware of how strenuous the hike is and how little shade is available on the main trail.

“It only gets worse when the heat increases,” Ortiz said. “Most people want to get off on a nice day but don’t consider the length of the hike and how strenuous the hike is.”

Jason Lopez, resource and trail manager for the San Dieguito River Park, said there have been more heat-related incidents in the park recently and there are more rangers bringing people back to their vehicles.

Common mistakes are not bringing enough water and not knowing the area, Ortiz said. Hikers may also not notice that the dirt on the trails reflects heat, which makes the trails about 10 percent hotter than the surrounding areas. “Most people are unaware of and underestimate the heat of going out,” he said.

Ortiz said one tip for safe hiking in hot weather is to leave early before the weather warms up and consider the time it will take to return. Hikers should finish their hikes before the greatest heat of the day.

When hiking in warm weather, it’s important to stay hydrated. Hikers should make sure they’re hydrated before starting their hike and bring more water than they think they’ll need, Ortiz said. He added that the amount of water a person needs depends on the person, their body weight and the distance they are hiking. Ortiz recommended taking half a liter of water an hour with you on the way.

Annie Ransom, interpreter coordinator for the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve in Poway, said she recommends consuming 1 liter of water an hour. Hikers should also be careful about how they feel, she said.

“If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Ransom said. “… If you feel dizzy and sick, stop and go into the shadows. If you stop sweating and are disoriented, stop and call 911. “

Lopez reiterated the advice that hikers should arrive well hydrated and bring more water than they think they need. Moistening their shirts can also help them stay cool while hiking, so extra water can help hikers treat themselves or other hikers in need. Nate Collins, park ranger for the San Dieguito River Park, also said hikers should bring 1 liter of water per hour per person along the trail.

Aside from water, hikers should make sure they have their cell phones to call 911 in an emergency, Ortiz said. “We go out (to rescue operations) pretty regularly and people don’t know where they are on the way,” he said. If a hiker is stranded, it can also help to keep an eye out for landmarks: for example, knowing they are a mile from the trailhead or near the picnic benches. Hikers can also use their cell phones to give rescuers GPS coordinates, Ortiz added.

It is important to wear the correct clothing when hiking. Ortiz recommends that hikers wear good walking shoes and clothing that do not retain heat and protect their skin from the sun. Ransomware said hikers should wear long sleeves and pants, and expose as little skin as possible. Clothing should be made from a sweat-wicking fabric, with cotton being one of the worst fabrics hikers can wear, Ransom added. Hiking outfits should include a hat that covers the head and neck and sunglasses. Sunscreen is also necessary.

Hikers should also know their own limits, Ortiz said. “I think a lot of people are trying to get the perfect picture (at Potato Chip Rock) for social media, but they don’t realize the hike is long and arduous,” he said. “People overestimate themselves.”

Felipe Franco-Ortiz, park ranger at the San Dieguito River Park, also said hikers need to know their limits before going on a hike. This includes knowing how far they can travel from and back to their vehicles and researching the difficulties of trails before heading out. Hikers can also seek advice from rangers, he added.

Collins said hyperthermia, or the inability to lower core body temperature resulting in heat illness, is a huge challenge along the way. Hikers should avoid using trails, cool off whenever possible, and wear loose, breathable clothing during the heat warnings. They also need to watch out for their electrolytes and blood sugar while hiking and sweating, so healthy snacks and salt and sugar supplements should be used on long hikes, added Collins.

Ransom said hikers should let someone know where they are going and when they are expected to return so that help can be called if the hiker doesn’t return in time. Hikers should also hike with a buddy if possible. Ransom also suggested that hikers bring items such as first aid supplies, extra food, a flashlight or headlamp, and extra clothing in case of an emergency.

Those who hike with dogs must take precautions to keep the pet safe and healthy despite the heat. Pets should be exercised in the coolness of the early morning or evening, said Nina Thompson, director of public affairs for the San Diego Humane Society. Dogs should not be led next to a bicycle in hot weather. Don’t force a dog to exercise in hot, humid weather, Thompson added.

Walking a dog on hot asphalt or concrete can increase the risk of heat stroke and injure its paws, Thompson said. Consider bringing a blanket or towel for dogs to rest on when walking or hiking on hot tarmac, and make time for breaks under shady spots. Water must also be brought for pets hiking with the owners.

Thompson said anyone hiking with a dog on a hot day should be aware of signs of heat stress. These include heavy wheezing, glassy eyes, a fast pulse, insecurity, a staggering gait, vomiting, and a deep red tongue. Take dogs to the vet if they show any of these signs after the heat.


About Clayton Arredondo

Check Also

Temporary closure of Eastern Reserve North Dog Park in South Melbourne

This is a precautionary measure to ensure that the ground cover continues to act as …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.