With school out and the kids home, you might be looking for ways to get outside and enjoy time in nature. Hiking can be a great way to take in the scenery and unplug from the daily chaos. But, with the Arizona summer heat you want to make sure you are prepared and doing what you can to keep everyone safe.
Katie Ellering, the Self-Appointed Mayor of Tortilla Flat—an iconic tourist destination for outdoorsy people—offered some great hiking tips including how to stay safe, things to avoid, and ways to make hikes engaging for kids.
5 summer hiking safety tips
- Take more than enough water. Hydration is incredibly important and cannot be overstressed. If you plan on hiking near a water source such as a stream or river, take water treatment options like a water filter or purification tablets.
- Wear lightweight, semi-loose and moisture wicking clothing. You want an outfit that is going to be comfortable and functional. Avoid wearing clothes made from cottons, denim and dark colors as the sun will absorb them rather than reflect them.
- Plan your hike properly. Start early and tell a family member or friend where you’re going and for how long. The earlier in the day you begin your hike, the cooler temperatures will be.
- Know your surroundings. Summertime is when rattlesnakes and other wildlife begin to appear. Make sure that you have a first aid kit in your hiking pack. Always keep an eye out for bushes or plants on the side of trails where snakes could be burrowing. In case of an emergency, know where the nearest area of cell service is to call 911 or the quickest way to a hospital.
- Be aware of the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke symptoms can be subtle at times but lethal. Early signs of heat stroke are dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation and an overall high body temperature. Take breaks during your hike and check on yourself and your hiking partner or group to make sure everyone is getting proper hydration and is in good
4 things NOT to do when hiking in the summer:
- Don’t procrastinate or rush planning for your hike. There is a high chance you will forget to bring an important item such as extra water, snacks, sunscreen or a sun hat. Take time to plan out your hiking trips!
- Don’t pack too heavy or over pack. Yes, it may be nice to bring extras such as a Bluetooth speaker but only pack essential items you’ll have to use.
- Don’t get too close to the wildlife. Arizona is home to many beautiful and rare species but if you stumble upon any of them such as a mountain lion or more commonly rattlesnakes, keep your distance until the trail is safe to walk through again.
- Don’t hike off the designated trail route. Leaving the trail can pose dangerous risks such as getting injured and getting lost. It can also damage the natural area and destroy habitat. If you are hiking with a group, take a quick pause every 15-30 minutes to make sure everyone is together on the trail.
5 ways to make hiking more engaging for kids:
- Make it a reading adventure and have your kids read simple nature trail maps.
- Sing a sing-along! There are many traditional, fun songs that kids would enjoy while out hiking such as “Do Your Ears Hang Low” or “Ants Go Marching!” If you have more than one child, pick a leader and have a rotation going. Kids enjoy the feeling that they are in charge and it will provide a fun atmosphere for them.
- Play a game to spot the most signs of wildlife like animal prints on the trail. Another engaging game would be “I Spy!” If you bring binoculars, you can take a break under a tree or shaded area and use them to play the game.
- Do a scavenger hunt. You can print out or create a hunt for your kids for them to work on while hiking. This is also a fun learning experience. Geocaching is popular entertainment too, just be safe and cautious of where your geocaching map is leading you and your kids.
- Kick along a pinecone or rock. Obviously, just be sure that they are walking in a safe direction.
“Hiking in Arizona during the summer is fun and enjoyable for the whole family,” said Ellering. “Be sure to take the proper measures when planning and while on the trail hiking and everyone should be good to explore!”