10 essentials you need to stay safe in the backcountry

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UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s backcountry areas are popular destinations any time of the year but you can expect the trails to be well worn by the end of the Memorial Day weekend.

Whether it’s rappelling, hiking, fishing, going out for a ride on an ATV, or whatever you decide, Utah County Search and Rescue wants you to have fun, but also be safe during the holiday weekend.

To ensure your safety, the crew says it’s important that you plan ahead and be prepared for anything.

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“The reality is, Memorial Day is one of our busiest. Any of the holidays, the Fourth of July, the 24th of July, Labor Day, we plan on very busy weekends. I would expect we will have several call outs this weekend to go assist people,” said Sgt. Juston Gordon, Utah County Sheriff’s.

“Things can happen in an instant,” Gordon told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

“The weather can change, rockslides can happen, you can lose your footing. Some things are out of our control of mother nature.”

If your plans include hiking, Greg Beveridge says be prepared for the snow because there’s still slush on the ground in higher elevations. 

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“Most of your recreationalists don’t carry or use crampons like this, but the conditions this time of year warrant their use,” Beveridge said, while holding a pair of crampons in his hands.

JT Ferrin has been with the search and rescue team for four years and says he has seen it all.

“Everything from just a hurt ankle on a regular trail, to falls off of 100 foot cliffs, swift water drownings, open water like on Utah Lake, snow stuff, hypothermic patients…”

Rivers are popular attractions but the rapid waters are deceiving. Ferris says people need to be extra cautious, especially if you’re with children.

“Rivers are pretty small but they’re also really powerful and they can easily drown a child,” Ferris said.

Ferris said there’s small things people can do that will make a big difference in the backcountry.

“If they would follow those two rules and carry the 10 essentials with them, we’d have far less rescues,” Ferris told ABC4 News. 

The reality is that no one is immune from getting injured or lost, but if it happens, this team, comprised of roughly 50 volunteers has put in countless hours of training, and stand willing and ready to make sure you make it home safely.

“We like to say that we’re there for them on the worst day of their life so there’s something really fulfilling in that, but there’s also a sense of adventure that’s really fun too,” Ferris said. 

For more information about Utah County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, click here.

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