Staying safe while hiking


More people than ever are enjoying the natural beauty that makes living in the Capital Region so special.

Officials warn that a new wave of hikers are hitting the trails woefully unprepared. In fact this weekend, one man didn’t make it out of the woods alive.

Three hikers unprepared for a change in weather rescued in Essex County.

An elderly man saved after getting lost on a hike in the Catskills, but a Queens man wasn’t so lucky. Keith Johnson died of hypothermia before rescue teams could get him to the hospital.

“They are going out into the wilderness unprepared for an emergency.”

Matthew Sirni, of Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue, which assists the NYSDEC says a record number of hikers

“They may not have knowledge of maps and compasses or they’ve relied on their cellphone and that’s now failed,” Sirni said.

And very often a lack of cell service means calling 911 isn’t an option.

Sirni shows us what’s in his survival bag: “First and foremost, I have a First Aid Kit.”

The lifelong survival educator and rescuer always carries a bag stocked with necessary gear.

“I also carry a dedicated GPS. The maps are a little bit more detailed. A heavy rain jacket with a hood even in the summertime. This has my fire kit. We keep cotton balls with gasoline.”

“You see, that will burn for a minute.”

NEWS10 ABC also asked one willing hiker if he wouldn’t mind being out to the test, Alex Bartholomew and his daughter Anna Beth.

Anya: “Footwear is good.”
Sirni: “Yep.”

Alex: “I do have a compass on my watch.”
Anya: “And you have a pocketknife.”
Alex: “Yes, and I have a multi-tool and a lighter.”
Sirni: “So you have the ability to start a fire.”
Alex: “Yes, I just talked with my wife about that this morning. She was like, ‘Why do you have that if you don’t smoke?’ I’m like, ‘If I fall down and I’m on a hike with Anna Beth I want to start a fire.”

Sirni: “You want to stay warm, yep.”
Anya: “You’re actually pretty prepared.”

Bottom line, anyone can learn basic survival skills. There are courses going on all season long.

Protecting yourself when you hike this spring and summer.

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