During times of sunny, warm weather, many like to take the opportunity to get outdoors and go hiking. During heatwaves, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responds to multiple calls for service due to heat-related illness for both humans and their dogs.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department would like to remind hikers of steps they can take to ensure a safe hiking experience for both themselves and their dogs. Below are some guidelines to follow while hiking as well as a message from Dr. Dave Dawson, DVM on how to prepare for the hike and keep yourself and your pet(s) safe.
Pay attention to weather forecasts. Sites like Weather.com let you check forecasts by location and ZIP code. The site offers hourly temperature predictions for the current day and for the following day.
Don’t be overly ambitious. A hot day isn’t the best time to finally do that 10- miler with 2,000 feet of climbing. If you’re intent on getting out, scale back your expectations and save the tough trails for another day.
Choose the right hike. There are many trails to pick from in Santa Barbara County from very easy to very difficult and strenuous. To help you decide which hike is best for you (and your pet), check out the website santabarbarahikes.com. It has a description and maps of all trails in Santa Barbara County.
Hike early in the day. Temperatures can easily be 20-25 degrees cooler in the morning than in the afternoon.
Avoid the most intense sun. Direct sun will increase heat-related stresses and the risk of sunburn. Try to find shaded trails and avoid hiking between 10 and 4.
Keep it loose and light. When it comes to clothing, remember “The Three L’s: Lightweight, Loose-fitting, Light-colored.
Wear a hat. A lightweight, light-colored hat with a broad brim to keep the sun off your face and neck will help you stay cool.
Use (and pack) sunscreen. Exposed, sunburned skin will only make it more difficult for your body to stay cool.