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June 16, 2020

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Plan ahead before heading to the great outdoors

Boulder County, Colo. - People are out recreating in record numbers around Boulder County. This has resulted in an increased number of search and rescue calls. Please help our search and rescue teams, most of which are volunteers, by doing some homework before you head to the great outdoors.

Before you head out:

  • Know before you go. Learn about an area or trail you plan on visiting to make sure you understand the difficulty level and what challenges you may face. Check the managing agency’s website or visit websites that provide reviews and user experiences.
  • Check the weather forecast for where you are going. The weather in higher elevations can be significantly different than in lower elevations.
  • During the summer, thunderstorms can form any time of the day, time your outdoor activities to avoid being outside during the storms, especially if there is lightening.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are supposed to return, who you are with, and give them a description of the car you are going in. If you change your plans, let the person know.
  • Have a back-up plan. Many trail heads fill up quickly and no legal parking will be available. Have a plan B for where you can go if your first choice isn’t available.

What to bring:

  • Bring more food and water than you think you will need.
  • Bring a first aid kit, emergency blanket, a working headlamp, whistle, etc.
  • Bring appropriate safety gear for the activity you are doing (helmet, life jacket, etc.).
  • Dress in layers and try to wear clothing that is made for outdoor activities (breathable, waterproof, windproof, etc.).
  • Bring a paper map or download a map ahead of time that can be used without internet in case your phone or GPS isn’t working.
  • If you plan on recreating in the backcountry or wilderness areas, consider purchasing a handheld GPS device that has an SOS feature.
  • Start out with a fully charged cell phone. Consider putting the phone in airplane mode to save battery life and/or carrying a small portable charger.

If you need help:

  • If you need assistance from first responders, first try to call 911, but if there is not enough cell coverage, try texting 911. Most dispatch centers are now capable of accepting text messages.
  • If you are lost, contact 911 and stay where you are. If you are on a trail or road, stay on the trail or road, that will help search and rescuers find you.

While search and rescues are free in Boulder County, except for the use of an ambulance, planning ahead is the best way to take care of yourself and your companions.