Follow suggested safety precautions when hiking

Our County

On Monday, a 20-something-year-old woman visiting from Germany went hiking. In the morning, she walked into Haleakala Crater and stayed on the trail that leads out of Kaupo Gap.

After the sun set, she became disoriented, and she called 911 emergency dispatchers. With her cellphone, GPS coordinates and her flashlight, she was able to help firefighters locate her in a remote area, and by 1 a.m. Tuesday she was brought down to Piilani Highway where a friend was waiting for her. She needed no medical attention.

What’s remarkable about this missing hiker is not what went wrong but what went right. By using her cellphone and flashlight, she was able to let search-and-rescue crews know she was in trouble quickly and show them how to locate her.

The Maui Fire Department has other recommendations for hikers. These include:

• Informing people of hiking plans; where are you going, and when do you plan to return?

• Making sure you take your cellphone and that it’s fully charged and there’s an extra battery.

• Being aware of cellphone coverage areas and knowing that remote areas might not have coverage.

• Wearing brightly colored clothes to make it easy for rescue crews to spot you, if necessary.

• Taking an adequate amount of water and snacks.

• Starting hikes early, knowing when the sun sets and leaving with enough time before darkness.

Flash flooding is also a concern. To see what happens during a flash flood, I recommend viewing a video clip available by going to www.mauicounty.gov/2064/Flash-Flood-Precautions. Remember that flash flooding can still happen even when it’s sunny because rain clouds gather and unload rainfall at high elevations.

Weather information is available at www.weather.gov/hawaii. Click on forecasts, Hawaii and then Maui County.

Also on the subject of safety precautions, June 1 was the official start of hurricane season. Now through Nov. 30 is when warm ocean waters southeast of the Hawaiian Islands spawn tropical storms that can develop into hurricanes.

We all remember last year’s Tropical Storms Lane and Olivia that had approached our islands as hurricanes before losing some steam. Nevertheless, they brought high winds and widespread flooding. In August, Lane was accompanied by a wildfire that claimed 1,500 acres and 21 homes in West Maui.

Needless to say, there’s more than enough reason to stay informed, alert and prepared. This year, forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Centers say ocean temperatures are expected to remain above average this year while vertical wind shear is predicted to be weaker than normal. Those factors contribute to a prediction of a 70 percent chance of above-normal tropical cyclone activity this year. That means we can expect five to eight tropical cyclones this year in the Central Pacific.

I urge everyone to put together a survival kit with supplies, including a two-week supply of drinking water and nonperishable food. Families should have a plan in which everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. If separated, family members should have a place to seek shelter and know what each family member will take in case of evacuation.

During hurricane season, stay informed by monitoring news outlets, Maui County news releases and by subscribing to Maka’ala emergency alerts from our Maui Emergency Management Agency. Its phone number is 270-7285, and its website is www.mauicounty.gov/emergency.

Emergency information is available on social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Aloha.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.

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