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SAN ANGELO, Texas — Summer is in full swing and that means it’s camping season! There are some camping advisories provided by Catherine Caruso with the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region, to keep in mind while you are having fun as well as safety tips from this year’s Texas State Park Guide.

While most campgrounds are currently open, including those that are first-come, first-serve it is important to plan ahead and be prepared. Memorial day weekend is going to cause campgrounds to become unusually busy and so it may be hard to find a spot. Caruso recommends going on day trips to your favorite campgrounds if this is the case.

If a spot is available here are some tips to keep in mind. Just because the area is open to access does not mean it is safe. For areas that have experienced fires, they pose an increased risk of falling trees, rocks, landslides, flash floods, and hidden ash pits for up to a decade after the fire. It is important to remember that it is never really “safe” and to always research the area you intend to go to.

For those camping in Texas Parks, the 2022 Texas State Park Guide reminds us that natural bodies of water are not the same as swimming pools. Conditions can change quickly to become dangerous. It is advised to be able to swim efficiently, always supervise children, wear a life jacket in deep water, and take a boater education course. One of the top safety concerns of the summer is heat-related ailments. To prevent this it is asked that campers carry water on them at all times, wear a hat and sunscreen, and begin any and all strenuous activity early before the heat reaches its peak.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities according to visitor surveys of Texas Parks which requires some amount of specialized gear and planning. It is important to have access to a physical map because phones can be unreliable in the outdoors. Wear proper shoes in accordance with the type of hikes such as hiking boots for advanced trails or hiking sandals for easy trails. Be aware of uneven surfaces to prevent falling as well as your surroundings for wildlife. The number one rule of hiking is to always make sure someone knows where you are and where you are going.

“Please, know before you go,” said Caruso, “take some time to get educated about the area you plan to visit.”