Friday, August 9, 2013


This morning, Shari Ireton, Director of Communication/Public Information Officer for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue volunteer Oyvind Henningson were on KSER 90.7 to talk about hiking safety.

I know, it’s not burglary prevention, or catching car thieves, but enjoying our trails and nature safely is as important as crime prevention. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for searching for lost hikers and climbers who get into trouble in Snohomish County. It’s Volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) unit (small staff and many volunteers) regularly conduct SAR operations throughout the year.

The main point that Ireton and Henningson made this morning was to take 10 essential tools with you when you go hiking:

  1. Navigation- Bring a map and a compass so that you can find your way around. If you bring a GPS unit, be sure you know how to use it. And even if you have a GPS with you take that map and compass.
  2. Sun Protection- Bring your sunglasses and sunblock. Protecting yourself from the sun is an important part of survival in the mountains.
  3. Insulation- You might be able to start your hike in shorts and T-shirt, but the weather can change quickly in the mountains and if your hike takes longer than planned, into the evening hours, you can find yourself pretty cold finding your way back or waiting for help. Take a waterproof jacket, an extra layer of warmth, extra socks, gloves and a warm hat.
  4. Illumination- Bring a flashlight (or headlamp) in case your hike takes longer and it gets dark.
  5. First Aid- Bring a first aid kit with you to be able to handle small cuts and injuries. It can include Band aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, tweezers, over-the-counter pain reliever and antihistamine, compression bandage (such as an Ace bandage), and a triangle bandage to act as an arm sling.
  6. Fire- If you get stuck on the trail at night, you will want to be able to start a fire. Take matches or a lighter or other fire starting tool.
  7. Repair Kit- If something breaks, a zipper won’t zip or a tent pole gets bent, you will need tools to repair it. Some tools can include duct tape, knife, safety pin, fabric patches.
  8. Nutrition- You might bring some light snacks for the planned duration of your hike. But, take a little extra in case you find yourself on the mountain overnight.
  9. Hydration- Bring plenty of water with you to keep you hydrated for the hike.
  10. Emergency Shelter- Bring a shelter in case you find yourself staying overnight. For a day hike it doesn’t have to be much, a space blanket can provide warmth and a shelter from the elements.

Another important point is to plan ahead before you go. Study maps, hiking and camping books and websites about where you plan to go. Two good websites are Northwest Hiker ( and Washington Trails Association ( Check the weather forecast for the time that you want to go out.

Another important part of planning is to let someone know where you are going, when you are going, and when you expect to be back. Let them know when they should call 911. The Sheriff’s Office has a form that you can fill out to provide the essential information that it can use to find you faster. The form is at:

For more information about Hiking Safety go to:


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