HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations to visit during summer months. Famous landmarks were among the top reasons that motivated tourists to visit Hawaii this year, and about half of them spent their time hiking, according to a state-commissioned survey.
This time last year, the Honolulu Fire Department held a news conference about the increase in hiking rescue calls, reinforcing the message that any trail can be difficult based on a person’s fitness level experience. More than half of those rescue calls involved visitors.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
So far this year, HFD is still rescuing more visitors than residents. They shared these numbers with KHON2:
- Between 2017 and 2022, majority of rescue-related calls involved people between the ages of 20 and 39.
- In 2021, 56% of rescue-related calls involved visitors. From Jan. 1 to May 31, 2022, 55% involved visitors.
- In 2021, of the 301 high angle rescues, 92 were for lost hikers and 161 were for injured hikers.
- From Jan. 1 to May 5, 2022, of the 78 high angle rescues, 15 were for lost hikers and 50 were for injured hikers.
- Comparing early May numbers from last year and this year, there is actually a slight decrease.
- There is no seasonal pattern for peaks in rescue-related calls.
With summer travel already in full swing, visitors have been inundating the trails, oftentimes unaware of their personal fitness level experience, as well as being unprepared for weather and trail conditions. Remember, any trail can be difficult if you’re not ready for it.
The HFD provided these following hiking safety tips:
- Do your research. Prior to hiking, learn about the trail you intend to explore so you know the route, where to start and the degree of difficulty. When you get to the trail’s entrance, read and follow the signs that are posted. Be aware of restricted or closed trails.
- Bring a cellphone. In case of an emergency your cell phone can be a lifesaver. Ensure that your battery is full prior to your hike. If you lose cell phone connection, get to higher ground to improve your reception.
- Start early. Your rescue probabilities are way better during daylight hours than at night. Getting a late start increases the possibility of getting caught in the dark.
- Know your turnaround time. Stick to it to allow enough time to return.
- Stay on the trail, especially if you’re lost. Most accidents happen when hikers leave the established trail and disregard warning signs.
- Call 911 as soon as you think you are in trouble. If you’re in the mountains, stay in the same area so the rescuers can find you based on your last known geo-location coordinates.
Check out more news from around Hawaii
And the most important tip of all: Do not hike alone! But if you must, make sure to tell someone where you are going. By following these simple tips, your hike could be the peak of your travels.