Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

LCPD offers safety tips for hikers, bikers, and runners

by: Melissa Luna, Las Cruce’s Fire Department

Posted: Sep 18, 2022 / 01:31 PM MDT

Updated: Sep 18, 2022 / 03:10 PM MDT

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The Las Cruces police and fire department offers some safety tips for hikers, bikers and runners who partake in outdoor activities.

  • Know your physical capabilities and the terrain for which you will be on.
  • Plan your trek carefully and take into consideration weather reports, time of day, the expected duration and other conditions which may be faced during your adventure.
  • Never go alone – especially on nature trails or in undeveloped areas.
  • Tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you expect to return. If you have not returned by the designated time, you should know to contact authorities.
  • If driving a vehicle to your starting point, remember to remove valuables and lock all doors when leaving your car unattended.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for changing weather conditions or potentially dangerous situations.
  • Be considerate of others who are using the same path or trail.
  • Leave the headphones and earbuds at home. They are a distraction and can keep you from hearing approaching danger.
  • Obey posted signs and avoid straying from established trails.
  • Carry a fully charged cellphone in case of an emergency. Avoid depleting a cell phone’s battery by overusing the camera function.
  • Pack a power bank and the proper cord to recharge a depleted cell phone battery.
  • Carry a flashlight and extra batteries even if your hike is during the daytime.
  • Avoid pushing daylight to take in a glorious sunset or full moon. Once the sun sets, it can be difficult descending a mountain or keeping to a trail.
  • Take extra precautions if you are on the trail before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Consider carrying a compass, or GPS device, and map in backcountry areas. Know how to properly navigate using the tools.
  • Take plenty of drinking water and nutrition to sustain you during the outing.
  • Remember that temperatures can vary widely in high desert areas. Warm daytime temperatures and relatively high elevations expend energy quickly.
  • Wear or carry proper attire for the trek. It’s best to dress in layers that can easily be removed – or added – depending on conditions.
  • Wear a hat or proper head covering.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. Hiking at high altitudes exposes skin to more damaging UV rays. A sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended.
  • Wear shoes or boots that are comfortable and suitable for the terrain to be covered.
  • Carry a whistle or high-decibel personal alarm that can be used to summon help.
  • Consider packing and carrying a first aid kit including medications that may be needed.
  • Learn and understand basic first aid and survival skills.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions and the potential for flash floods from rains that occur upstream from your location.
  • Watch for snakes that are more active during warmer, daytime temperatures. Snakebite victims should seek help immediately.
  • Beware of wild animals (bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, deer and African oryx) that are known to frequent the Organ Mountains and other nearby areas. Never approach or attempt to handle a wild animal.
  • If hiking with a dog, take into consideration its needs and safety requirements for the day.
  • Be wary of jagged, rocky terrains that could cause harm to your dog’s paws.
  • Refrain from allowing your dog to run off-leash as it might give chase to wild animals and could easily become lost or injured.
  • Keep in mind that dogs may not be permitted on some hiking trails. Do not leave dogs in an enclosed vehicle even in shady areas. Vehicle interior temperatures can rise quickly and become deadly within minutes.
  • Watch for icy or slippery conditions that could lead to a loss of footing.
  • Be extremely cautious of setting or using fire and do so only in designated areas when conditions permit.
  • Do not attempt dangerous water crossings.
  • Do not attempt risky climbs or descents that are beyond your level of expertise.
  • Dispose of waste properly and follow the “Pack it In – Pack it Out” motto to help keep wild areas pristine.
  • If stranded, it is recommended to first try calling for help. Abandoning a partner or vehicle and walking for help could be more dangerous than staying put and waiting for help to arrive.
  • Call 911 immediately if you see suspicious activity or feel that you are in danger. Avoid calling a friend or relative first when emergency services are needed as doing so only delays the response.

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