More Utahns heading outdoors, keeping search and rescue teams busy

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SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utahns are heading outdoors to take advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures but it’s leading to a sharp increase in search and rescue calls throughout Salt Lake County.

“In the last couple of weeks we’ve had a lost person, we’ve had a fall victim, and a climbing incident — we’ve had a suicide. We’ve had a variety of things,” Alan Bergstrom, Training Officer for Salt Lake County Sherrif’s Search and Rescue, told ABC4 News.

From March 11-April 29, 2019, SLCO Search and Rescue was only called out once. This year within the same trim frame, the team was called out seven times.

“They’ve been very, very experienced people, and they’ve been some people just out for a walk and didn’t bring the right gear, or you know, a twisted an ankle or whatever,” said Bergstrom. 

The team is also reminding people about water safety.

With a great snowfall this past winter there’s going to be a lot of debris coming down the mountain, which can be dangerous if you get too close, according to Wayne Bassham.

Bassham, the Commander of SLCO Sherrif’s Search and Rescue, says the speed of water can be rapid and he recommends people stay at least 10 feet away.

“If you stick your foot in the water right now and get stuck, you’re going to have a really bad day.”

If someone does fall into the water, Bassham says don’t jump in after them, rather, reach for them with a pole, a stick, a towel, a rope, or anything they can grab.

“The last thing you want to ever do is go after them.”

Here are some safety tips from Wayne and Alan:

  • Plan your hike and stick to it.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you should be back
  • Bring extra clothing, snacks, and water
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged

For a full list of tips, click here.

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