/ Modified jul 1, 2019 11:08 a.m.

First responders discuss how to stay safe in the heat

Tucson Fire and Pima County's Search and Rescue Unit respond to dozens of cases each summer.

The first full week of summer delivered triple-digit highs in Tucson. With that come familiar reminders about staying cool and hydrated. That may go without saying for many in Southern Arizonans, but it's a message worth repeating for first responders who handle dozens of heat-related calls this time of year.

So far this year, Tucson Fire has responded to more than 30 calls related to heat-exposure. Such calls for all of last year exceeded 190, with the most active months between June and August. Paramedic Pete Weinman told Lorraine Rivera everyone is susceptible to the effects of heat exposure given the region's climate.

"Pretty much everybody in Arizona is a little bit dehydrated to begin with just because there's no humidity in the air. You're breathing it out, you're sweating it out and even if your skin isn't wet you're still losing moisture," Weinman said. "Don't think it's not going to happen to you."

Beyond Tucson's city limits, the Pima County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Unit conducts about 200 calls each year. They mostly encounter hikers and hunters. Rescues happen year-round given the popularity of the county's many trails, but the summer heat adds additional challenges. Sgt. Steve Ferree, who supervises the search and rescue unit, offered Arizona 360 advice on steps hikers should take to prioritize their safety.

"If you are going to hike, I would recommend in the morning. Just be cognizant of your water level. Once you start getting to that halfway of your water you need to seriously consider turning around," Ferree said. "One thing we will generally tell people is once they get in that situation where they realize they need help, just stop, stay where you're at. Because it's very hard to look for a moving person."

Ferree also recommends people put their cellphones on airplane mode or carry an extra battery otherwise the battery will drain quickly as the phone attempts to search for service in remote areas.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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