As a visitor to public lands, you will have the opportunity to enjoy some of this country's unique and breathtaking natural beauty. Public lands within the southwest desert offer the visitor a broad range of opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, photography, hunting, OHV touring and camping. The public lands are yours to enjoy and to preserve for generations to come.
To protect yourself, a few safety reminders are necessary. Knowledge of the outdoor environment, along with proper planning and equipment, will ensure that your visit to public lands is a safe and enjoyable one.
* Heat - Heat related injuries can be life threatening situations. Daytime summer temperatures routinely exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Users of the public lands should always have plenty of water available. Experts suggest drinking a minimum of one gallon of water per day.
* Proper Clothing - The desert has plenty of sharp rocks and thorny or spiny vegetation. Summer storms can chill upper elevations and drop large amounts of rain in a short period. Wear the proper clothing and foot wear to enjoy your experience. Lyme Disease and Hantavirus are rare but there have been documented cases in the southwest desert region. The best prevention for Lyme Disease is long pants, socks and boots covered with tick repellent. The best prevention for the Hantavirus is to avoid rodents.
* Drug Labs - Methamphetamine drug lab waste is a growing hazard on the public lands. Please stay clear of anything that looks like a drug lab or any garbage dumped in the desert. If you suspect any type of crime or violation contact the Federal Interagency Communications Center (FICC) at 1-888-233-6518 or 911.
* Explosives - Military explosives can be found most anywhere in the desert. Large areas of the desert were used for bombing ranges and maneuvers by the US Armed Forces. There may be unexploded devices or practice devices that could cause serious bodily injury if handled. STAY AWAY AND REPORT any such devices to FICC at 1-888-233-6518 or call 911.
* Flash Floods - Flash floods are a common and widespread disaster that can occur often in the desert. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather related deaths. The sheer force of just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet. Cars are easily swept away in just two feet of water. Flash floods can occur with little or no warning - and can reach full peak within minutes. No area is immune to flash floods. Keep alert for signs of rain (thunder and lightning), both where you are and upstream. Don't try to drive through flooded areas. Know where high ground is and how to get there quickly.
* Abandoned Mines - There are many abandoned mines here in the desert. The best advice is STAY OUT and STAY ALIVE! Folks have fallen to their deaths nd there are reports reports of whole vehicles and their passengers falling into mine shafts. Most think of mines that you walk into, other think of mining pits...keep in mind there are also mine shafts....straight down
* Travel Safety - There are inherent risks and dangers when driving in the back-country. The condition of these routes can deteriorate quickly and substantially at any time. Therefore you may encounter conditions considerably worse than you expected. Your best course of action is to be prepared. Exercise caution and good judgment making sure that you and your vehicle are in top condition and that you have the proper training, safety equipment and supplies to deal with any problems you may encounter. In addition it is never wise to travel alone in the back country. Should you meet with a mishap, help will almost always be far away and long in coming. Your cell phone may not work in many desert areas and it is strongly suggested that you file a travel plan (and stick to it) with someone that can a alert the authorities if you are over due.
High clearance four wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended for driving on un-maintained desert routes.
Contact FICC 1-888-233-6518. !