Summer hiking safety tips

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 10:00 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - With the official first day of summer just around the corner, the Western Slope has already been experiencing warm to hot temperatures. However, with many people already doing outdoor summer activities, one outdoor recreation activity can be hiking, and there are some tips before hitting up that next trail.

The most significant occurrence for summer hiking is hikers not becoming well prepared enough for the heat. When ready for your gear and supplies, the number one item is water. You want to ensure enough water, especially if the trail you are hiking might be strenuous, prolonged, or both. Something in your daypack is a reservoir or hydration bladder that can hold two or three liters of water.

Alongside water, the second most crucial part is snacks. Salty snacks like chips can help replenish some of the salt your body loses during sweating. However, you also want to bring along some protein bars to help bring the energy your body needs to keep moving forward. Snacks are not only a great way to boost your morale, but it is also essential to the energy lost while hiking.

However, you should include other items in your daypack: a compass, map, backup battery charger, and a first aid kit. While these items are also essential in your daypack, your clothing is vital to the hot summer days. You want to wear clothing that is light, breathable, and reflective. Specific loose and breathable clothing made from polyester or nylon. These can help regulate your body temperature when it sweats. Long sleeve shirts, as crazy as it sounds, are an essential part too cause they help protect you from UV rays from the sun.

Lastly, before you hit the trail, you want to know the conditions for the location you’re going. Check the forecast and avoid going to areas that call for thunderstorms. Be prepared for rapid weather changes, especially in mountainous places like Colorado.

Once you are out, the next factor to consider is your health. With temperatures reaching triple digits, hiking in the heat can be dangerous if not taken seriously. The best time of the day to hike is in the morning or nighttime hours when temperatures are the coolest. If hiking during the daytime, focus on more shade trails, like trees or canyons. If you have to hike in plain, open sight, exposed to the sun, limit your distance. The primary health concerns in the heat are dehydration and heat exhaustion.

If you are dehydrated, some signs to look out for include feeling thirsty, dark yellow urine, dizziness or lightheadedness, dry mouth, lips, and eyes, and little urination daily. In heat exhaustion, signs can include headaches, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite, excessive sweating, pale, clammy skin, fast breathing or pulse, thirst or/ and temperatures 100 degrees or higher.

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