NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - With COVID-19 shutting just about everything down, many people are using their free time to go hiking. Wintergreen Fire & Rescue firefighters and paramedics say they’re seeing more hikers this summer than ever before, but also having to answer more emergency calls, sometimes getting up to 15 calls in a single day.
“We’ve been seeing people that are injured, people that are having problems with the heat and not having enough water or not knowing where they typically are,” said Ryan Ferro, a rescue squad member.
Ferro said first and foremost, you need to know where you’re going before you set out to hike.
“Make sure you know where you’re going and know where you are,” Ferro explained. “If you know where you are and you do have an emergency, we can locate you a lot faster and get the adequate resources there to help get you off the trail.”
Ferro said it’s best to tell a friend or family member where you plan to start and finish your hike, especially if you’re hiking alone. If you do get lost, stay put until help arrives. While you’re out, you might also run into a few critters along the way.
“Typically during the heat of the day, snakes like to sit on a trail so they can get that warm heat from the sun,” Ferro said. “Ticks have become an increased problem carrying different diseases, so make sure you put on some bug spray and also make sure you just check yourself after your done with your hike to make sure to remove any ticks so you don’t have a medical emergency later on after your hike.”
Ferro said not to touch any plant you’re not familiar with, especially three-leafed or shiny looking plants.
“Leaves of three, just leave it be,” Ferro said. “If it’s a berry or a mushroom and you don’t know about it, probably don’t touch it or eat it.”
And if you’re unsure of the path ahead, or start to feel dehydrated or sick, turn around and end your hike early.
“There’s nothing ever wrong with making a hike short or cutting something short so that you stay out of trouble,” Ferro said.
Ferro said in case of any kind of emergency while hiking, it is always best to call 911.