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Safety tips from Cochise County Search and Rescue
  • Always hike, climb or pack in groups.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Carry plenty of water and make frequent stops to drink.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area before you enter, and take someone with you who knows the area.
  • Always be specific with friends or relatives about your planned route, and stick to it.
  • If you get lost, stay put. Stationary people are much easier to find especially in the dark.
  • Always check the weather forecast before starting your activity. Temperatures can drop several tens of degrees in a short period of time, even in late summer, and the summer monsoon storms seem to come out of nowhere, often causing flash floods.

Things to take with you

  • Butane lighter or matches in a waterproof container
  • Map and compass
  • Knife
  • Spare clothing
  • Plenty of water
  • Whistle
  • First-aid kit
  • Tarp or large plastic sheet, garbage bags for covering
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Mirror

The Cochise County Sheriff Office notes these common errors that have led to serious consequences, based on actual Search and Rescue Team missions:

  • Climbing or hiking alone: “I couldn’t find anyone to go, and I was only going a short way.”
  • Leaving your partner behind to “wait” for you. Usually because he cannot continue. If your partner “can’t make it,” return with him to base camp.
  • Leaving your equipment or pack behind (including medications) because “it was too heavy,” or you “didn’t think you would need it,” and you “were just a little way from the top.”
  • Sedentary workers trying difficult feats without first building up their physical conditioning and stamina.
  • Getting disoriented in a storm that comes up suddenly.

Recommended reading:

These guys wrote the book on things that can go wrong!

Ghiglieri, Michael P. and Thomas M. Myers. Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff: Puma Press, 2001. River guide Ghiglieri and medical doctor Myers have collected more than 500 accounts of fatalities in the Grand Canyon, but this book should be required reading for anyone hiking, climbing or rafting anywhere in the southwest deserts. Flash floods, heat stroke and hyperthermia are dangers encountered throughout the state.

Rock Climbing Arizona
Rock Climbing Arizona
by Stewart Green