Hiking and backcountry tips that can increase safety — part 1

Photo courtesy of ASVAR According to the Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue (ASVAR), it is important to consider all safety aspects before hiking or planning a backcountry adventure.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — With the advent of warmer temperatures comes an increase in people wanting to enjoy the outdoor activities available in the San Luis Valley, including hiking, boating, or other recreational activities in the backcountry areas.

According to the Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue (ASVAR), it is important to consider all safety aspects before hiking or planning a backcountry adventure.

ASVAR stated, “Planning a day or extended hike in the backcountry? If so, ensure that your preparation includes leaving a detailed trip plan with someone you trust. Someone that is not going on the trip. Why is this important? If unexpected events occur and you are in need of Search and Rescue, trip plans can significantly shorten response time and provide invaluable information to rescuers. Contrary to popular belief, emergency responders do not wait ‘24 Hours’ to start looking for missing persons. When you leave a trip plan with an expected estimated time of return SAR teams can respond as soon as it is clear you have missed your expected return and may need assistance. There are several popular hiking sites on the Internet where you can download a trip plan template. Get into the habit of filling it out or refreshing it each time you head into the backcountry. Send it to trusted friends and family and hike with the peace of mind that if something unexpected were to happen you have critical time-saving information in the hands of people you can trust.”

Make sure to include the following important information in your trip plan — your planned route, who are your travel companions, what activities you will be doing such as hiking, rock climbing, or boating, what is your estimated start time, what is the estimated travel time, the estimated time of return, a description of what clothing will be worn by all people in your party, a list of gear that you will have, what type of communications you are carrying such as a cell phone, GPS, or other communication devices, how much food and water you are carrying, any medical needs or medication, and finally your vehicle make, model, color and license plate. While these precautions may seem like overkill, this information can shorten the time it takes search and rescue to locate you if something unexpected happens and can save your life or the life of another.

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