TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Sheriff's Department is encouraging hikers to plan ahead before hitting trails this weekend as temperatures are expected to hit 100 degrees. Southern Arizona has seen an increase in hikers during COVID-19, and officials have received more search and rescue calls.
"People are cooped up and they're looking for ways to get out and socially engage in a way that's safe," said Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier in a Facebook live video Friday.
The sheriff's department used social media to encourage people to stay safe while hiking.
"Majority of the calls have all been related to a lack of preparation such as a lack of water or a lack of a light source," said Sg.t Stephen Ferree with the Pima County Sheriff's Dept.
Ferree said many of the people out on the trails don't have much experience hiking.
"Update your phone, so you have some mapping software," he said. "When you get on trails, if you come to a junction or come to a trail that isn't as well used, you can look at your phone and the map and know which way to go."
He recommends packing plenty of food, water and bringing a phone charger in case the phone starts searching for service and causes the battery to run low. With hot temperatures in the forecast, Ferree said it's best to go hiking in the mornings.
Taking precautions will benefit everyone's safety especially during COVID-10. The sheriff's department is trying to use fewer volunteers from the Southern Arizona Rescue Association, a group that usually helps with searches and rescues.
“We have started limiting the amount of people that they bring out just so we can limit that exposure,” Ferree said.