Hiking Safety Measures

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While hiking can be a good exercise, not being properly prepared can be detrimental to your health.
The city of Phoenix has a campaign titled “Take a Hike. Do it Right” to promote safe hiking. Inger Erickson, Phoenix Parks and Recreation director, will give us details.

Ted Simons: It's that time of year when local hiking trails see increasing traffic. The city of Phoenix has a new campaign to promote safe hiking, it's called "Take a hike, Do it right". Here with more is Phoenix parks and recreation director Inger Erickson. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." Take a hike. Do it right." What are you saying here?

Inger Erickson: Well, we have visitors who come to Phoenix every year, whether it's with baseball or just the nice weather that they can go out and hike. We need to make sure they're aware of what they need to do to keep themselves safe. We have this new campaign with the fire department, with the tourism folks, just to make sure that we are getting the word out there because what we find every year is that people don't take water or they don't wear the right kind of clothes or maybe they're taking a trail that's a little too difficult for them so we've got new signage coming.

Ted Simons: This sign right here, this says "Take a hike, Do it right", and the hope is that again Uncle Floyd from Pennsylvania comes out here, and he starts thinking, you know, maybe I should be aware of what's going on around me.

Inger Erickson: Right and we find that the trails that are the steep trails, this is summit trails, people want to get a great view of the valley and so they think it's a mile so that's not too difficult but it's straight up and so we want to educate them so that they know what they're getting into and can they keep themselves safe so that fire department doesn't have to rescue them and they don't find themselves in a bad situation.

Ted Simons: This list that we're looking at right now. Will those signs be actually at the trailheads?

Inger Erickson: Absolutely. We're installing them and they should be installed by the end of this week at the summit trails and throughout the rest of the year we're installing them at all the remaining trailheads. We have 40 trailheads, over 200 miles of trails so a lot of places to get the information out.

Ted Simons: So as far as rescues and as far as having to help people figure out what they're doing and get them off the trail, what do you see most?

Inger Erickson: People overestimate their abilities. If you feel like maybe you're out of your comfort zone, turn around and go back when you feel that way. If you have water with you, if you already have taken in half of the water you have, turn around, because half the water up, half the water down, especially as it gets warmer and pay attention to the season. If it's a warmer time of the year, really go out early morning or later in the afternoon when the sun's a little bit down because that middle of the day is just really, really hot as the season gets into the summertime.

Ted Simons: Are there certain trails in the city that just always seem -- Papago area, Camelback is always a problem. What are you seeing out there?

Inger Erickson: The three trailheads that we really see a lot of rescues on are the Piestewa Peak, Camelback and the Cholla side. Papago occasionally but that's because someone's gone into the hole in the rock to explore a little bit further and they've gone off trail. Staying on trail is really critical because when people go off-trail, we don't know where to find them and it can be a danger to themselves.

Ted Simons: And again, the tourism industry, these things will be passed out what through hotels?

Inger Erickson: We have it in the visit Phoenix magazine. We also will have a campaign working with the local hotels to put it in their lobbies and to have fliers that they hand out to people hiking. We have it all throughout the Valley.

Ted Simons: What about South Mountain? That is such a huge area. There's so much there and you don't hear much about rescues going on at South Mountain.

Inger Erickson: There's 16,000 acres over in South Mountain and a lot of it is not as steep. It's not the summit type trails. We've had situations over at South Mountain but again, the type of trail that it is a little bit different. It's a little bit more gradual and so people kind of cut their teeth on that, and then they go try to do Camelback, they get themselves into danger. And sometimes, you know, really you need to know your own abilities.

Ted Simons: As far as Camelback, those places, I haven't been to those places in years but even years ago, they were crowded. I can't imagine what they're like now. Is there any thought of a fee system or some way to just kind of cull the herd a little bit?

Inger Erickson: You know we find that even when we added additional parking, the more you add people just come and they're going to come regardless of what you do. It's a free system because again, it is the great outdoors and we want people to use the asset, we want to make sure they're safe and, you know, again it really is something that we want to provide for the community and so fees are not really something we're discussing right now.

Ted Simons: Okay so if you're going to head hiking on Phoenix trails, when you see that "Take a hike, Do it right" thing, a little bell should ring in your head and if you want to take the time to read that list do it because it can't hurt.

Inger Erickson: The more we ingrain people into that the more it will be in their minds.

Ted Simons: All right, very good. Good to have you here.

Inger Erickson: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it's the Journalists' Roundtable. More on senate president Andy Biggs' blocking of a bill that restores health insurance coverage to children in low-income families. And lawmakers vote to loosen control of anonymous campaign spending. That's on the next Journalists' Roundtable. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

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