Some consider Memorial Day weekend to be the unofficial start of summer. Search and rescue teams consider it to be the beginning of their busiest season.
Custer County Search and Rescue said it trains all year to ensure members are ready when called.
According to team captain Robert Pruiksma, the team of volunteers is up for the challenge because of its love of helping people in need.
He said that while ready to help, the team hopes that those heading to the mountains will be prepared and responsible.
“The most important thing for someone to do before they leave is to leave an itinerary and do their research. We can’t find you if nobody misses you,” said Pruiksma.
Custer County Search and Rescue recommends having 10 essential items available when in the mountains. These items are: map, sun protection, extra clothing and rain gear, headlamps, first-aid supplies, a method of creating fire, repair kit and tools, snacks, water and emergency shelter.
If disaster strikes, be sure to call for help immediately.
“Don’t be afraid to call. Don’t be embarrassed if you get in trouble. If you linger without calling for help, then things just get worse,” said Ray Varney, a volunteer with Custer County Search and Rescue.
He said turning off cellphones to preserve battery life can also prove to be a lifesaving technique.
Co-captain Cindy Howard said aside from having the necessary tools and equipment, those heading into the mountains need to be aware of their limitations.
“The mountain is always going to be there, and getting to the top is always optional. Getting down is mandatory,” said Howard.
The team said being aware of the weather is critical for staying safe, as weather on the mountain can change in an instant. Howard said planning to be off the mountain by noon is a good rule of thumb.
To check the latest forecast from your Stormtracker 13 team, click here.