Be prepared before going for a hike

Carson City Sheriff’s Search and Rescue train in Kings Canyon.

Carson City Sheriff’s Search and Rescue train in Kings Canyon.

If you’re going for a hike anywhere, you should always be prepared. Having the right tools in an emergency could help save your life.

Carson City Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Vice Commander Jeff Moser said it’s important to bring the 10 essentials if you’re going hiking.

They are: Navigation; headlamp (light); sun protection; first aid; knife; fire; shelter; extra food; extra water; and extra clothes.

These items, even for a short hike, can become handy and can make the difference if you run into any problems.


Moser said the most common call for physical distress in western Nevada is heat exhaustion and dehydration. Many people don’t prepare by bringing enough water or dressing properly for the heat. Prevent this by always bring more water than you think you’ll need and wearing proper clothing.

Moser said you’re able to recover from heat exhaustion on your own by finding a cooler spot and shade. He said loosen up clothing, take off socks and boots and drink water. Usually symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold and clammy skin and nausea. If you stop sweating and get delirious you get heat stroke.

When it comes to dressing, Moser recommends wearing lightweight, loose fitting clothing rather than short and tight. He said it hides your body from the sun. Since sunscreen needs to be re-applied every two hours, covering your skin with clothing is much easier and safer.

“With sunscreen, eventually you’re going to get burned,” Moser said. “With loose clothes you can stay out all day.”

Moser said it’s very important to carry a headlamp or a flashlight all the time. He said a common call Search and Rescue receives is when someone is stranded somewhere like Prison Hill at dusk because they didn’t realize how long they’d be out there.

“A headlamp can make all the difference of getting back to the trailhead,” Moser said.


Here’s some tips from Moser:

  • Keep a backup battery for your phone. He said many times when people call Search and Rescue when their phone battery is very low and usually after that call, they can’t call them back.
  • If you get lost, stay put. Moser said Search and Rescue works by eliminating where people are NOT located. If the person keeps moving, searching becomes difficult.
  • If you get lost in the mountains and call 911, the signal will give the call center your GPS coordinates.
  • Keep a leaf bag as your shelter for the 10 essentials. Here is a short blog about “Trash Bag Shelters”:
  • Add 3M Coban self-adherent wrap to your First Aid kit. Moser said for larger wounds that a band-aid won’t cover, to clean the wound and apply a 4”x4” bandage and use the Coban to wrap it.
“The Coban is a lot less frustrating than trying to use tape that never seems to stick right,” he said.

Some preparations before hiking:

  • Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.

“If no one knows where you are, you can be up there a lot longer,” Moser said.

  • Check the forecast before you hike.
  • Learn how to use your hiking gear. Train with your gear and practice at home before taking it into the backcountry, Moser said.

“You might buy something and get out there and not know how to do it,” he said. “Like setting up a tent.”


Rattlesnakes are also a part of our local backcountry, but if you stay on trail and don’t bother them, they are rarely a problem. Moser said it’s usually pets that are the biggest risks. Also, he said older methods for removing venom are outdated. Lots of anti-venom kits that stores used to sell aren’t the proper procedure, he said.

If a rattlesnake bites someone, it is best to get the person to sit and remain calm. Moser says keep your heart above the wound. Remove any tight clothing or jewelry because you swell up (e.g. your hand could swell up and a ring on your finger could cut off circulation)

You should call 911 right away and you possibly could be helicoptered to Reno.

So be prepared and prevent a catastrophe. Carry your essential items at all times and get used to hiking with them.

Kyler Klix is a designer for Nevada News Group. He also writes about the outdoors and entertainment. Email him at


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