The 4th July weekend is a hugely popular time for camping and hiking, but officials are warning explorers to make sure they're properly prepared for all eventualities, and know their own limitations before hitting the trails.
“Extreme heat and severe summer storms can quickly turn a simple day hike into a rescue situation," said Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Colonel Kevin Jordan.
The warning comes after two of hikers from Texas were found suffering from hypothermia near Lake Como after badly misjudging the weather conditions. The pair were surprised to find that the weather was so much colder in Colorado, and had set off without spare clothing, sufficient water, or a rain fly for their tent.
“People must always take personal responsibility as they head out by acknowledging their physical limitations, being aware of changing weather conditions, and knowing when it’s time to turn back," said Jordan in a statement.
Hikers in New Hampshire, where Jordan is based, are being urged to buy a voluntary Hike Safe Card which helps support the Fish and Game service's search and rescue operations. The cards cost $25 for an individual and $35 for a family, and exempt you from repaying certain costs if you need to be rescued during your visit, in much the same way as a fishing license.
"It is imperative that people enjoying New Hampshire’s natural resources exercise a high degree of caution and carry plenty of water and adequate rain gear," he added. "Unsafe and irresponsible behavior also puts first responders at extreme risk of injury.”
To make sure you're prepared, plan your route in advance and stick to known trails. Check the weather forecast and look for any local warnings about hazards such as flooding or extreme heat. Check out our guide to hiking essentials to make sure you have all the gear you need for a safe and successful trip.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).