One of the reasons I love our beautiful county and the entire region is the four seasons we get to experience.

We just got spoiled this summer with awesome weather and now we head into the fall season.

With fall season comes challenges for all of us to stay safe.

The mornings are now darker longer and the evenings are getting darker earlier every day. And yes, let’s not forget how much we enjoy the rain. Are you prepared for the dark, wet months to come?

Here are some tips:

n Check your vehicle tires.

n Have your brakes checked.

n Ensure all of your vehicle’s lights are operating.

n Have extra supplies in your vehicle.

n Time to get new windshield wipers.

In Skagit County we have great trails for hikers, high lakes still not frozen and miles upon miles of backcountry to explore.

October is also deer hunting season where hikers and hunters share the same area. General deer season for modern rifle runs from Oct. 16-31.

We have had tragedies in the past where hikers were mistaken for wild game. When you are going for a hike on a trail or in the backcountry, please be mindful that it’s hunting season.

Here are some tips:

n Wear bright colored clothing when hiking. Hunters are required to wear orange while carrying a rifle to hunt big game.

n Take notice of additional vehicles at trailheads. If there are more vehicles than usual, there is good chance there are hunters.

n Let someone know where you will be and how long you intend on being there.

This is also the time of year that our search and rescue volunteers get busy with overdue hikers.

Many times people that are going out hiking, hunting or biking for the day forget how dark it gets by 7:30 p.m.

We find they are underdressed, do not have enough water or food and have no supplies to start a fire. We also get notified that people have lost the trail as snow begins to fall when way up in the backcountry.

Here are some tips to ensure your safety when enjoying our beautiful outdoors:

n Tell a close friend where you will be hiking and what trailhead your vehicle will be at.

n Show them a map of what area you will be in and exactly what supplies you will have.

n Include the color of hiking poles, backpack, etc., that you will have.

n Tell your friend when you expect to be back to your vehicle. Instruct them to call 911 if you are not back at a specific time.

n Pack extra water, food and clothing.

n Always bring fire starter in case you get caught in the elements and are forced to stay the night.

n Bring extra batteries for a flashlight.

n Ensure your cellphone is fully charged and if possible bring a portable charger.

The Sheriff’s Office encourages outdoor activity. We just like to educate everyone to be safe, as we have been called many times to help.

— Chad Clark is undersheriff of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Send questions to scsocommunity@co.skagit.wa.us.

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