SAN ANGELO, Texas — Independence day weekend is coming up fast and with it comes summer fun including hitting the trails. Texas State Parks has shared six tips on how to stay safe while also having fun.
Why is this important? Last year, 43 state parks reported 102 heat-related illnesses in humans and pets. Since January 1, 54 heat-related incidents have already been reported, compared to 34 reported by this time last year. This becomes exceedingly important as this year’s temperatures have been consistently climbing into the triple digits.
Tip number 1 is to hydrate it is important to drink at least 16 ounces of water for every hour in the heat in order to prevent dehydration, do not forget to keep your four-legged family well watered too!
Tip number 2 is to Block the rays. Be sure to bring along plenty of sunscreen and reapply every couple of hours especially after swimming or sweating.
Tip number 3 is to dress smart. It is recommended to wear light, loose-fitting clothes a hat, correct shoes, sunscreen, and wet bandanas to keep you cool while in the sun. For pets, protect paws against blistering by hitting the trails during cooler times of the day when the ground isn’t hot or by putting booties on pets to help shield paws from the hot ground. Touch the pavement or ground with the back of your hand. If you cannot hold it there for five seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog’s paws.
Tip number 4 is to Stay Salty. Food helps us to maintain our energy and replace the salt lost from sweating. Recommendations include jerky, granola, trail mix, and tuna, to nourish your body while on the trails.
Tip number 5 is to maintain a Buddy System. Two brains are better than one in a serious situation and It’s beneficial to have someone with you in hot conditions so you can look after each other on the trail. With high temperatures hitting Texas, heat-related illnesses are common, and having a friend around to help recognize the early symptoms can save you from getting sick.
The final tip is to plan ahead. Study the map and have it with you, avoid relying on your phone for maps since service may be unavailable in back-country areas. Average hikers move at 2 miles per hour, so allow yourself plenty of time to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Make sure to rest in a cool or shaded area to recover from the heat if necessary. It is also a good idea to let someone know your plan before you hit the trails and what time you should be back. That way, if you become lost, people know where to look.
Dogs are as susceptible to heat as their humans are, so it is good practice to ensure that you bring enough water and snacks for four-legged hiking buddies to last the entirety of the trip. Also, be mindful of ground temperatures before hitting the trails. Since dogs aren’t wearing shoes, they can be prone to injury.
If you are looking for more tips on how to safe visit the TPWD website.