With the announcement of Excessive Heat Warnings this week by the National Weather Service, Scottsdale Fire officials urge the public to adjust outdoor activities -- including hiking plans.
“We are a very active community,” says Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon. “When we get calls for mountain rescue late in the morning or early afternoon, that is a concern. That it is the time of day when activity should be limited. If the person is injured, it can be compounded by heat-related illness.”
Individuals suffer heat-related illness when the body's temperature control system is overloaded and the body can no longer cool itself. Call 911 if a person becomes confused, passes out from the heat or stops sweating.
It is important to know the early warning signs and take action. Heat cramps is the body’s way of saying “enough.” Go inside and drink room-temperature water. Avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, full-strength Gatorade and alcohol.
When a person is excessively sweating, has dizziness, headache, nausea/vomiting or feels weak, they are showing signs of heat exhaustion. If the person does not feel better 10-15 minutes after going inside and drinking water, call 911.
Preventing heat-related illness is key. “ It is important to understand that heat will make trails more difficult so choose your route wisely. Get out early so you can get off the mountain before the heat of the day,” Shannon says. “Pre-hydrate days before your activity. Bring plenty of water on the hike and carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.”
Common symptoms of a heat-related illness include:
• Heavy sweating
• Shallow breathing
• Rapid but weakened pulse rate
• If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it may progress to heat stroke, a severe form
of heat illness.
Scottsdale is a part of the Valley-wide campaign to encourage hiking safety. Hikers are encouraged to use the hashtag #HikeRight when posting photos of safe hiking activities.