Officials give tips on staying safe at Garden of the Gods

How to stay safe when exploring nature in the Heartland
Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 5:26 PM CDT
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GARDEN OF THE GODS, IL (KFVS) - The Heartland is full of scenic, but potentially dangerous, outdoor recreation areas. Earlier this week, a woman fell 40 feet from a cliff at Garden of the Gods, so officials are prompting hikers to be safe.

"It was a good and bad day, at the same time, it was sunny and pretty and it was hot,"  said eight-year-old Gavin Hernandez.

Hernandez, claiming to be an "expert" hiker, explains exactly what to wear when out on the trails.

"Hat, a shirt - a no-sleeve shirt… and these kind of short jeans."

Hernandez was at Garden of the Gods with his mom, Leah Clark, who likes to be prepared, herself.

"I bring in my backpack sunscreen, water, bug spray, first aid, just stuff you know you are going to need," said Clark.

The beauty of the wilderness area attracts people from all over. However, its terrain can be tricky - and can turn a day trip into a trip to the hospital, if you're not careful.

"Dress appropriately... [It's important] to have good footwear because the rocks are uneven and it's easy to turn an ankle... it's easy to fall or slip so good foot wear is essential." said Sheriff Keith Brown of Saline County.

Sheriff Brown says to also bring a charged phone and even a portable charger, especially if you plan to be in the park hiking all day.

There are park rangers on the premises, but the sheriff says a successful day, like what Gavin and his mom have planned, depends on you.

"It's up to everyone to police themselves and to be careful and to not get in the position where you can be harmed. Obviously, there's not enough park rangers, there's not enough law enforcement to be everywhere all the time. Being responsible is something we ask especially in an area that is very dangerous if you're not paying attention and not careful," said Brown.

If rain comes this weekend, the sheriff says be careful, because the makes those rocks slippery, and you're more likely to fall.

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