The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Search and Rescue teams conducted 681 missions last year – which was up 38% from 2013, when there were 491 rescues. Why the increase? As the LA Times notes, people are pursuing extreme activities in hopes that they get noticed and liked on social media.
The teams’ leaders say the single largest factor for that increase is people posting videos of extreme activities online. Then, without any thought about the difficulty, others try to re-create their own 15-second version of glory. Rescue teams in Santa Barbara and San Bernardino counties have seen similar increases.
“People will post videos of themselves jumping off of Hermit Falls or the Malibu rock pool, and they post it in the springtime when there’s a decent amount of water. But now, the water is a lot less, so what used to be a 10-foot pool is now a 5-foot pool,” said Michael Leum, who oversees the Sheriff Department’s Search and Rescue teams. “You don’t want to be a lawn dart going into that shallow pool.”
In addition to simply engaging in activities that they are not prepared for, there has also been a number of “models” who hike into an area, change outfits, and pose dressed in suits, evening gowns, as mermaids, or even just ditching clothes altogether and posing for a nude shot.
Authorities say they are not discouraging people from hiking, but ask that they stay on the trails, follow all the signs and warnings, and bring “the 10 essentials” – the informal list of must-have hiking items that include a map, a compass, sunscreen, extra food, extra water, extra clothing, a flashlight or headlamp, a first aid kit, matches and a knife.
Oh, and don’t forget your phone to take all those mermaid photos.