Staying safe while hiking in the woods

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia K-9 Search and Rescue’s Patty Wygal says her organization receives more calls from lost hikers in the summer months.

“A whole lot more at risk because you think you’re in the mountains so you don’t have to worry about the heat as much,” she said. “The summer months are the worst, it’s hot. A lot more injuries because of falls.”

Wygal stresses preparation when hiking, wearing appropriate shoes and most importantly, staying hydrated.

“I can’t stress enough, take water with you, always hydrate,” she said. “That’s the most important thing when you’re out there is to keep hydrated.”

Tammy Gonzales enjoyed a morning hike at Kanawha State Forest Wednesday. She said whenever she hits the trails, she’s prepared.

“I never come out here by myself,” she said. “If I don’t have my cell phone on me, I have my Apple Watch with because there are spots where you can get service. I always have a bottle of water, usually have some gum just to keep my mouth from getting dry, make sure I have good shoes on and always douse myself in bug spray.”

Wygal and her team also help police by tracking human scent. Their K-9’s train for years to help locate people. She says if you find yourself lost in the woods, stay put.

“We’re looking for their odor, we’re looking for just their specific scent,” she said. “If you move and keep moving and keep moving, your odor and your scent is going everywhere.”

And wandering off too far can get you into deeper trouble.

“If you’re wandering around and you come back into a sector that we’ve cleared, we may not come back to that for two-to-three days,” Wygal said.

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