Coronado National Forest - Recreational Activities - Safety

Hiker Safety

[Photograph]: A family is gathered around a campfire roasting marshmallows. Their tent is in the background.Certain safety procedures should be followed by all hikers. Failure to observe safety rules leads to accidents and sometimes death. Chances of becoming a statistic in the records of some search and rescue team will be greatly reduced by following these safety rules.

Carry water

Even the alpine forests on Mt. Lemmon are extremely dry and there is almost no natural water available. No untreated or unfiltered water should be consumed. Read about Avoiding Dehydration.

Beware of animals

From scorpions to rattlesnakes to black bears , Southern Arizona animals can cause serious injury or death. Be aware of your surroundings and never approach a wild animal. Look carefully before you touch, sit or walk. Be Bear Aware! & Mountain Lion Safety.

Do not go alone

Unless you are experienced and prefer solitude, a party of at least four persons is recommended. Try never to leave an injured person alone. He or she may wander off while in shock.

Plan your trip carefully

Plan a route ahead of time using Geological Survey and Forest Service maps. When traveling on foot, allow about one hour for each two miles covered, plus an additional hour for each 1,000 feet of altitude gained.

Get a weather report

Fast-moving frontal systems can bring sudden and violent changes in mountain weather, during both summer and winter. National Weather Service Tucson office. Service


High on the list of activities where people are injured by lightning are mountain hiking, climbing, camping, fishing, boating, and golfing. Many vacationers are unaware of the measures they can take to lower their risk of being struck. They should educate themselves about lightning strikes. They should be near safe shelter and try to avoid high terrain, large medows, and bodies of water during high lightning activity (late morning to evening).

If you are caught above the tree line when a storm approaches, descend quickly. Avoid isolated trees. It is better to run into a forest. Electric storms can also develop in the middle of the night. To lower your odds, don't pitch your tent near the tallest trees in the vicinity. Drop metal objects like umbrellas and packs with internal or external metal frames. Get off bicycles, motorcycles, horses. Metal bleachers at sports events, metal fences, and utility poles are also to be avoided. If you are caught in an open field, seek a low spot. Crouch with your feet together and head low.

If Someone Is Struck - People who have been hit by lightning carry no electric charge and can be safely tended to. Also, victims who appear dead can often be revived. If the person is not breathing, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But if a pulse is absent as well and you know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), begin CPR. Stay with the victim until help arrives.

Don't sit or lie down, because these positions provide much more contact with the ground, providing a wider path for lightning to follow. If you are with a group and the threat of lightning is high, spread out at least 15 feet apart to minimize the chance of everybody getting hit (see "If Someone Is Struck").

Don't return to an open area too soon. People have been struck by lightning near the end of a storm, which is still a dangerous time.

Swimmers, anglers, and boaters should get off lakes or rivers and seek shelter when storms approach. Drop any fishing rods. Boaters who cannot get off the water before the storm hits should crouch low. Once on land, get at least 100 yards away from shore.

Remember: This information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have a health-related concern, consult a physician. Also, the tips discussed here may lower injury risk, but the unpredictability of lightning affords no guarantees.

Check with authorities

Forest Rangers know their district and can offer valuable advice on trials, campsites and potential problems. Also check for fire restrictions and closure notices that may affect your planned route.

Go properly equipped

A shirt, sweater, socks, mittens, and cap should always be carried. For protection against wind and wetness, carry a weatherproof outer parka. Sun protection and adequate water are essential in desert areas.

Always carry these items when going into the mountains: map, compass, flashlight, sunglasses, waterproof matches, whistle, pocket knife, candle, protective clothing, minimum first aid and extra food.

Water sources are almost always polluted. Be able to purify water you need. Water is scarce everywhere in the Forest. Do not assume restrooms will have potable water; many are pit toilets only. Carry plenty of water.

Beware of loose rock

In some areas loose rock can be a serious hazard. Never roll rocks down a mountainside. Another party may be below.