Honolulu Fire Department warns to take hiking precautions following two hiking fatalities

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A string of recent hiking accidents has officials sending out a warning about hiking safety. Two people died in two separate incidents during the week of Monday, Feb. 8.

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A California man died after slipping and falling down the Maunawili Falls Trail on Thursday, Feb. 11. A woman’s body was found at the base of Maili Pillbox Trail just one day before on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Officials said, she hiked the trail often.

“We always have to be careful in Hawaii,” said Barbara Bruno with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. “We’re a very small island, and we have tall mountains. So the gradients are going to be steep. So even trails that by Hawaii standards aren’t particularly difficult, are difficult by mainland standards, and this is something that hikers have to be aware of.”

The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) said, there were 181 high-angle rescues for hikers and 49 searches for people on land in 2020.

“365 days of the year, that’s one every other day, so it does kind of seem like a lot,” said Carl Otsuka with the Honolulu Fire Department.

HFD said, people should inform others of their plans, where they will be hiking, for how long and when they expect to be back before going out on a hike. HFD also recommends checking the weather, researching the hike and mapping out a path.

HFD said, people should bring a cell phone or some way to contact others, a backup battery pack, some food, water, clothes and gear for any weather when hiking.

They say the most important rule is not to hike alone, however.

“Frequently people who get into trouble are alone and in the case of an emergency, their partner’s help is invaluable. If they do get unconscious, (their partner) be able to call 911. They may be able to help you hike out,” said Otsuka.

“At the beginning when we were under very strict lockdown measures, you were not allowed to hike with a partner. And that really created some safety issues but now there’s no excuse,” said Bruno.

Some things that they recommend people not do during a hike is going off the trail, especially if a person does not know the area and if the area is more difficult than the person is able to handle.

Bruno said, they have noticed an increase in hiking incidents over the last decade — possibly due to social media. She said, hikers often see a place on Facebook or Instagram that they want to visit or take pictures at but do not do the proper research and weigh the risks of the area first.

“Accidents can happen anywhere, and to anybody,” said Bruno. “But there are definitely things we can do to prepare ourselves. And a lot of that has to do with knowing your own capabilities, doing your research, and understanding about trails are very different in different weather conditions.”

Below is a list of HFD’s Do’s and Don’ts.

For a checklist of what people may need to know before a hike, they can visit this website.

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