Texas State Parks: How to Stay Safe on the Trails

SAN ANGELO, Texas — With Independence Day weekend fast approaching, comes summer fun, including hitting the trails. Texas State Parks has shared six tips on how to stay safe while 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 at this time last year. This becomes extremely important as temperatures this year have consistently climbed into the triple digits.

Tip number 1 is to hydrate it’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of water for every hour of heat to prevent dehydration, don’t forget to give your four-legged family plenty of water too!

Tip number 2 is to Block the rays. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and reapply it every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

Tip number 3 is to dress smart. It is recommended that you wear light, loose clothing, a hat, decent shoes, sunscreen and damp bandanas to keep you cool when out in the sun. For pets, protect paws from blisters by walking the trails during the cooler hours of the day when the ground is not hot or by putting booties on pets to help protect paws from hot ground. Touch the pavement or the ground with the back of your hand. If you can’t hold it for five seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog’s paws.

Tip number 4 is to stay salty. Food helps us maintain our energy and replace salt lost through sweating. Recommendations include jerky, granola, trail mix and tuna, to fuel your body on the trails.

Tip number 5 is to maintain a buddy system. Two brains are better than one in a serious situation and it pays to have someone with you in hot conditions so you can take care of each other on the trail. With the high temperatures hitting Texas, heat-related illnesses are common, and having a friend around to help you recognize early symptoms can save you from getting sick.

The last tip is to plan ahead. Study the map and have it with you, avoid relying on your phone for maps as service may not be available in outback areas. Average hikers travel at 2 miles per hour, so allow plenty of time to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Be sure to rest in a cool or shady place to recover heat if needed. It’s also a good idea to let someone know your plan before you hit the trails and when you should be back. That way, if you get lost, people will know where to look.

Dogs are as sensitive to heat as their humans, so it’s recommended to make sure you bring enough water and snacks to keep the four-legged hiking companions going for the duration of the trip. Also consider the ground temperature before hitting the trails. Since dogs don’t wear shoes, they can be prone to injury.

If you’re looking for more security tips, visit TPW website.

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