6 tips for staying safe on Texas trails during the summer heat

More than 50 heat-related illnesses reported at state parks this year

Visitors hike through Enchanted Rock State Park, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Fredericksburg, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is offering tips to help people stay safe on trails in the heat.

With the summer season in full swing, officials said 54 heat-related illnesses have been reported in humans and pets at state parks so far this year, compared to 34 at this time last year.

TPWD says other than staying hydrated, hikers should know their route, dress smart and fuel up on salt to stay replenished while sweating.

For dogs specifically, owners should make sure they have enough water for their furry companion and be aware of the ground’s surface temperatures.

“Since dogs aren’t wearing shoes, they can be prone to injury,” the agency says.

These are six “heat hacks” provided by Texas State Parks:

  • Hydrate - It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of water every hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration. Don’t forget to bring enough for your four-legged family members too.
  • Block the Rays - Apply a generous amount of sunscreen or sunblock before heading outdoors. Be sure to reapply every couple of hours, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Dress Smart - Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; 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.
  • Stay Salty - Food helps keep up energy and replace salt lost from sweating. Eating snacks such as jerky, granola, trail mix, tuna and dried fruit is a fantastic way to nourish your body while on the trails.
  • Buddy System - Two brains are better than one. 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.
  • 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.

Read also: