The Placerita Canyon Nature Center held a session with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue officials about hiking safety on Sunday.
Reserve deputy Tony Pepe, civilian volunteer Robert Peters and new recruit Sean O’Connor shared advice and answered questions about how to stay safe and prepare for a hike, what to bring and what to do in case of an emergency. Eager hiking enthusiasts and professionals asked away during the later half of the presentation.
“I love it,” Peters said. “I love having a lot of interaction, a lot of people asking questions means they’re really paying attention, and they’re very interested in what we’re talking about. Which is good, I’m glad to see this many people here, as well.”
Peters noted that hikers should look at the weather forecasts ahead of a hike and not to be overly ambitious to go out for a several-mile hike on a hot day, for example. Sunscreen and lightweight clothes also make a difference in sunny summer weather, along with staying hydrated.
One object Peters recommended hikers bring was a mirror, which could reflect sunlight and signal other hikers or search and rescue aircraft to a lost hiker’s location.
“Nobody plans on needing to be rescued,” he said when asked about the mirror’s practicality in a rescue situation. “It just happens.”
While the outdoors can become cold at nighttime and a firestarter is essential, Peters said hikers will stay warm using a space blanket rather than starting a fire and avoid the risk of causing a wildfire given California’s notorious fire season.
“Usually, the scenario is people do a lot more hiking on the weekends,” Peters said. “Usually, it’s a while before somebody figures out that they’re not home when they should have been. So it’s usually after dark. By that time, we get called. A lot of times that’s 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night, when we’re getting activated to do our thing.”
As the presentation concluded, visitors picked up flyers and business cards that detailed the 10 essentials while hiking. This included water, a map and compass, a flashlight and extra bulb and batteries, a knife, a first-aid kit, extra clothing, matches and firestarter, sunscreen and sunglasses, a mirror and a whistle.
To learn more about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team, go to lacosar.org.