Search and Rescue says hikers need to be prepared

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    By Amy Smith

    Each Spring, the squad receives an increased number of calls for hiking emergencies, said Phil Schow, manager of Hansen High Adventure in Orem.

    Tuesday, May 2, a Provo couple hiking in Provo Canyon used a cell phone to call for help when they realized that they could not hike back to safety on their own, police said. The rescue started at 8:45 p.m. and was complete around 5:30 in the morning. The couple survived unharmed.

    Experts say that to increase hiking safety, hikers need to go out with the expectation that something could go wrong or cause a delay, said Schow.

    “Utah gets lots of flatlanders, especially BYU students, who are not used to the temperature rise when hiking in the mountains,” he said.

    In preparing for a hike, people need to take proper equipment that will provide warmth, water and a signal for help, said Schow.

    “The biggest mistake that hikers make is that they do not go prepared,” said Schow.

    Hikers should always take a jacket or sweatshirt with them to guard against the temperature changes in the mountains, he said.

    “The backside (Eastside) of Timp. can be a 50 degree difference from the valley,” Schow said. “Hikers need to beware of the snowy areas during all seasons.”

    Other items to pack in a backpack include a hat, water, a flashlight, matches, a map of the area, a compass and signaling devices such as a mirror, whistle or cell phone.

    “Take a cell phone with you, but don’t try to rely on it,” he said. Electronic devices could lose battery power and may give hikers a false sense of security.

    “[Hikers] do things they wouldn’t normally do when they have cell phones in their pockets,” said Schow.

    Schow also said that even during daytime hikes, hikers should always take a flashlight in case their return time is delayed.

    “[Hikers that start at night] often have less problems because they are more prepared,” said Schow. “They bring jackets and flashlights.”

    Schow cautioned that hikers need to stay within their capabilities.

    “Go higher each time, and don’t try to make it to the top your first time if you’re not capable,” he said.

    Before hikers start their journey, they should always tell someone where they are going and their expected time of return, said Schow. Hikers should also never go alone.

    “We want people to go out and enjoy hiking,” said Schow. “The more prepared they are, the better experience they will have.”

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