Park rangers remind visitors to enjoy Grand Canyon safely

Recent visitor deaths attributed to unsafe selfies, heat exposure

With thousands of visitors to Grand Canyon National Park every day, the Park is asking visitors to remember safety first and to hike smart. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

With thousands of visitors to Grand Canyon National Park every day, the Park is asking visitors to remember safety first and to hike smart. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — While the Grand Canyon is a fun, safe destination for family vacations, road trip stopovers and hiking trips of a lifetime, park rangers would like to remind visitors that fatalities can and do happen and urge them to recreate safely.

Staying behind park railings at all times is one easy way to ensure safety. Visitors in search of the perfect canyon selfie are advised to take care and remain aware of their surroundings.

On July 3, park rangers responded to reports of a visitor that had climbed over a railing at the Grand Canyon, lost footing, and fell approximately 500 feet.

The fatal fall occurred at Mather Point, a scenic Grand Canyon viewpoint located along the South Rim of the canyon. Mather Point is popular for its canyon vistas and proximity to the Visitor Center Plaza.

An investigation is underway. The man was later identified as 24-year-old Andrey Privin, from Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

In addition to remaining aware of surroundings and other guests while taking photos, hikers should also be prepared to hike smart. Temperatures below the rim can to soar to well over 100 degrees, even in the shade. Hikers should always check-in at the Backcountry Office to review their itineraries prior to beginning their backcountry hike and try to hike before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., resting in shade and near water during those times to avoid the worst heat of the day.

Heat related illness strikes individuals quickly. If you or a hiking partner begin to exhibit signs of heat related illness, which include nausea, disorientation, dizziness, and hallucinations, immediately stop moving. Attempt to cool yourself or hiking companion, if possible seek shade and stay put.

All visitors to Grand Canyon should ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids, resting frequently, watching for signs of distress in traveling companions and dressing appropriately for the weather, which includes light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Multi-day hikers in the backcountry should consider carrying emergency beacon devices that can alert Rangers to emergency situations.

In 2017, heat contributed to 82 search and rescue (SAR) incidents at Grand Canyon National Park, many of which occurred in June. June 23, rangers responded to a second fatality in the inner canyon because of the heat. Giancarlo Mayor-Valencia, age 22 of Scottsville, New York, was on day two of a multi-day backpacking trip when he succumbed to heat-related illness.

A trip to Grand Canyon can be both fun and safe by keeping these few tips in mind.

Stay on designated trails and walkways and always keep a safe distance from the edge of the rim. In areas where there is a railing or fence, do not climb over the barrier.

Keep an eye on all of the people in your group, especially small children. Make sure that your travel companions have both feet firmly planted on pavement or developed trails at all times.

Know where the edge is. Watch foot placement and look for trip hazards. Do not run, jump, or perform physical stunts when near the rim.

Know the altitude, the South Rim sits at 7,000 feet and the North Rim sits at just over 8,000 feet. Individuals coming from sea level or with health conditions should take time to acclimate to the elevation. Drink plenty of fluids, rest frequently, and do not overexert yourself.

Check the weather! Monsoon season is quickly approaching and afternoon lightning and heavy rain become daily occurrences. Remember, when it roars go indoors.

Stay a safe distance away from wild animals. A good rule is two bus lengths or if you can cover an animal with your thumb. Remember, do not feed or water wildlife.

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