Outdoor Safety Tips for Southern Arizona

Thousands of people enjoy the beautiful mountains and deserts of the southwest every year. Some of these people become needlessly injured, crippled or even die. Deserts and mountains can be very unforgiving environments and are not places to be careless or unprepared when visiting. In addition, if you plan to engage in technical or specialty sports such as climbing, mountain biking, or backwoods hiking, then you need to seek competent instruction before setting out on your adventure.

Prepare for the Unexpected and Emergencies

There is an old saying: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and it holds especially true in the environments of the desert southwest. Pleasant conditions and clear trails can lead to overconfidence and danger when the situation or weather suddenly changes. Think about possible emergencies before you leave home and take positive steps to prepare for them. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, do not panic! If possible, sit down, think things through before you take action, and consider all of your alternatives. Allow yourself to rest if you become fatigued, don’t press on to the point of collapse – this can be very dangerous. Plan an extra margin of safety into your activities and you’ll enjoy them even more!

Carry Plenty of Water

The desert environment can be extremely hot and dry, and can extract tremendous amounts of water from your body very quickly. You will need at least one gallon of water per person per day when temperatures are above 90 degrees, and even more when they get above 100 degrees. Light cotton clothing covering your body and a hat will also help to slow evaporation and protect you from the sun exposure. If you are caught without sufficient water, then shade and rest will be critical for your survival when temperatures soar. Studies have shown that there is no point trying to ration water; drink what you have when you get thirsty.

Beware of Flash Floods

Water actually causes more outdoor deaths in the desert than falls, heat, or hypothermia. The desert soil absorbs so little water; even a short rain can produce a massive runoff resulting in widespread flash flooding. Roadways, culverts, and even bridges can be totally submerged by water in a matter of minutes. Moving water is very powerful and a strong adult or even an entire automobile can be carried away by rushing water that is only shin-deep. Do not try to drive or wade across a flooded area. Stay out of swiftly flowing streams and washes and do not stand or allow children to play on the banks of washes as these can collapse suddenly. If you do become stranded in a vehicle, try to stay with the vehicle until rescue personnel arrive to help you.

Do Not Hike Alone

Although it can be tempting to strike out on your own on the spur of the moment, this practice leaves you helpless in the event of sudden illness or injury. Even minor injuries can turn into life-threatening situations if you have no one else to help you.

Tell Someone Where You Are Going

No matter how large your party, it is important to tell someone reliable WHERE you are going and WHEN you plan to leave and return. This will allow rescuers to be dispatched in the event that an emergency occurs and you are unable to summon help yourself. A cell phone is not enough to ensure safety in areas away from cities.

Avoid Cliffs and Waterfalls

Falls kill and injure thousands of people each year; a vertical fall of 35 feet or more is usually fatal. Loose rocks and boulders can also cause fatal accidents. Hikers frequently do not realize that scaling a cliff or waterfall is often more dangerous and time-consuming than simply going around. The easiest and fastest routes through the mountains are on trails even if they do seem to be longer.

“Knowledge doesn’t weigh an ounce and is always there when you need it.”

Be Prepared for Cold Weather

Although southern Arizona is generally mild, hikers should not underestimate the potential for weather extremes. The combined effects of wind and cold can kill in a matter of minutes, especially if you are wet.

Carry Proper Equipment and Use It

Carry equipment to support you in the event of an emergency. Never discard your equipment if you become tired of carrying it. Instead, rest until you are able to continue. If you are a climber, wear a properly fitted helmet at all times and inspect technical equipment frequently in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Specialized training is always essential before you engage in climbing and rappelling sports.

Learn Key Outdoor Skills

Knowledge doesn’t weigh an ounce and is always there when you need it. The conveniences of modern life allow us to live day-to-day without many of the basic skills that were well known to earlier generations. Instructional courses in first aid and outdoor skills are available from many community colleges as well as local recreation clubs. Take the time to learn outdoor skills.

Source: http://www.sarci.org and the Doves Nest (La Paloma Property Owners Association Newsletter)

Lynn Kline CRS, GRI, ABR, SFR

Kristin Graff, Realtor

Since 1983

10122 E. Prairie Dog Lane, Tucson, AZ 85749
Cell: 520-977-3443 Fax: 866-553-1173

Website Developed by Webheads