Risky Hiking on the Rise in Hawaii

Honolulu Fire Department personnel have been called out 59 times to the top rescue location, Diamond Head Crater, during the past year.

Social media are spurring an increase in risky scenic hiking at some locations in Hawaii, according to a March 12 report published by the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Nina Wu's article said social media posts, blogs, and apps are highlighting unsanctioned hikes and making the location of trails available, with GPS coordinates, to all. One result is a lot of Honolulu Fire Department rescues, she reported.

They have been called 59 times to the top rescue location, Diamond Head Crater, during the past year. Her report lists 15 locations where departmental personnel made at least six rescue trips from January 2017 to February 2018.

Wu's article quotes Aaron Lowe, a trails and access specialist with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, who said use of the state trails has risen significantly, as have the number of people, both visitors and local residents, who are going to places that are obviously dangerous. "A typical example occurred Sunday, when Honolulu Fire Department rescue crews extracted two hikers, a male and a female, who were stuck in a steep clearing left of the Haiku Stairs trail. The 911 call came in just before noon," she reported. "Crews flew in via the Air 1 helicopter and extracted the two via a sling and took them to a landing zone at Kaneohe District Park, the department said by email."

The article includes these hiking safety tips:

  • Stay on the trail and stay together. Hike with a partner or a club. Do your research on the trail before you go.
  • File a plan with someone who knows where you're going, who's going with you, and when you're expected back.
  • Check weather conditions and know your own capabilities.
  • Avoid undue risks.
  • Monitor the weather and watch the time.
  • Bring necessary equipment, including a charged cellphone, rain gear, space blanket, flashlight, and 2-3 liters of water.
  • In an emergency, call 911, be visible and audible. Stay calm, stay put, and stay warm, out of the wind and rain.

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