SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With the nice weather, many people are hitting the hiking trails, but you are urged to have a safety plan before you take off.
In the Santa Barbara hills, along Tunnel Road, many hikers say they usually have water and a cell phone but officials say they also need to be aware of weather conditions, and possible risks if it's a "red flag" day.
The Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team has released this "top ten" list for hikers.
1. Take plenty of water for yourself and any pets that you bring with you. One quart (32
ounces) per hour is a good rule of thumb.
2. Bring food. Don't forget that a hike or backpacking trip is exercise that requires fuel.
Granola or protein bars are small in size and enough to keep you fueled for a short hike.
3. Be familiar with the area before you go. Bring a map, and remember that trails can
become overgrown with brush. For this reason, we also recommend bringing a compass
and GPS device, and learning how to use them before you set out.
4. Tell someone where you're going, when, and how long you plan to be out. If no one
knows you're gone, then no one will know you're missing if you don't return.
5. Bring a buddy. Hiking alone seems appealing – until you become lost or hurt. Bringing a
hiking partner will give you an extra hand for help if you need it.
6. Take extra layers, even if it's warm. Don't forget that 4,000' elevation gain can have
significant effect on weather and temperature; just because it's warm at the beach doesn't
mean it's not freezing in the mountains.
7. Bring a cell phone. Don't rely on it since Santa Barbara County's backcountry has
famously poor cell reception, but if you become lost or injured and have a signal, you'll
need a cell phone to dial 9-1-1 for help.
8. Bring a flashlight. If you stay out later than you'd planned, or if you go on a sunset hike,
you won't be able to see where you're going (or which trail you're on) without a flashlight.
Smartphone flashlight applications are a great way to minimize the weight you carry.
9. Wear sunscreen and lip balm, and bring some extra with you. Even if it's cloudy, your
skin can still burn. Remember that children burn faster than adults.
10. Hug a tree. If you get lost, then stay put; don't make yourself more lost or risk injury. If
you become lost or injured, then don't wait: immediately dial 9?1?1 for help.