AUSTIN— Last year, as temperatures soared into the triple digits in Texas, staff at 39 Texas State Parks handled 132 heat-related illnesses in humans and pets. Now that the summer has officially begun and temperatures are steadily climbing, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is sharing their top six heat hacks for staying safe in the outdoors.
Here are the top six heat hacks recommended for park visitors:
• 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. 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.
For more information about heat safety, visit the TPWD website.
All guests, including annual pass holders, are encouraged to pre-purchase or register for day passes and overnight reservations in advance through the Texas State Parks Reservation System before heading out to a state park. Park capacities are limited, and permits sell out fast. Reservations can be made online at www.texasstateparks.org or by calling 512-389-8900.
Find a park in your area at http://texasstateparks.org.
For infographics of the six heat hacks, visit the TPWD Flickr page.