Group of hikers rescued from mountains prompts safety recommendations from rangers

Thousands of hikers visit the Franklin Mountains each year, but some aren’t always prepared. Credit: KFOX14 / CBS4

Park rangers say people need to be prepared for emergencies when they go hiking.

This comes after another rescue in the Franklin Mountains where five people needed help coming down.

KFOX14 spoke with an official from Texas Parks and Wild Life.

State Park Police Officer Jonathan Murphy tells me how filling out a registration form at the bottom of the hike could save your life.

Thousands of hikers visit the Franklin Mountains each year, but some aren’t always prepared.

Sunday night, a rescue team had to help five hikers who went off trail and lost track of time.

"I'm so glad that somebody actually found them because if someone hadn't come by, there's a good chance that something bad could have happened,” hiker Alex Evans said.

Park officials say it’s important to start your hike early and always tell someone where you’re going.

"We made sure we did it during the day, we dropped a pin so her husband knows where we are gonna be, and if we're not back in a timely manner he'll know something is up,” hiker April Fisher said.

Park rangers say it’s important to fill out a registration form before a hike.

They’re in a box at the bottom of every trail, where you pay the park fee.

“Just in case something bad happens, they’ll know what time we got here, what vehicle we’re in to see if the vehicles are still here, to have a way to find us,” Fisher said.

Rangers say they use information like your license plate number to keep track of who’s at the park.

The form also asks for an emergency contact in case something goes wrong.

“You might (be) extra tired, finish up your water, and by the time you get to the end, you don’t have enough supplies to come back,” hiker Gabriel Romero said.

Park officials say you can always switch your phone to airplane mode to save battery life in case of an emergency situation.

The El Paso Fire Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife want the public to be aware of a few recommendations when planning a hike.

  • Plan before you go. Know rules and regulations. Also, do not hike beyond your capabilities.
  • Stay on the trail always. Walking off-trail increases your chance of suffering an injury, getting lost or encountering dangerous wildlife. In addition, desert soils are fragile. Cutting across switchbacks tramples vegetation, erodes the soil and eventually destroys the trail.
  • Have a cell or mobile phone for emergencies, but do not rely on them only. Carry with you a whistle, mirror, flag, flashlight, flare or other means to signal your location.
  • Check weather conditions and wear proper clothing accordingly. Avoid doing activities during extreme temperatures. Seek shelter in the event of strong winds or thunderstorms.
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