Hiking tips

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

The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife offers 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, up from 34 this time l ‘last year.

TPWD says that in addition to staying hydrated, hikers need to know their route, dress smart, and stock up on salt to stay replenished while sweating.

For dogs in particular, owners should ensure they have enough water for their furry companion and be aware of soil surface temperatures.

“Since dogs don’t wear shoes, they can be prone to injury,” the agency explains.

Here are six “thermal hacks” provided by Texas State Parks:

  • Hydrate – It is important to drink at least 16 ounces of water per hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration. Don’t forget to bring enough for your four-legged family members.

  • Block the rays – Apply a generous amount of sunscreen or sunscreen before going outside. Be sure to reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

  • Dress smart – Wear light, loose and breathable clothing; a hat, decent shoes, sunscreen and wet bandanas to keep you cool 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.

  • stay salty – Food helps conserve energy and replace salt lost through sweating. Eating snacks such as jerky, granola, trail mix, tuna and dried fruit is a fantastic way to fuel your body on the trails.

  • buddy system – Two brains are better than one. It pays to have someone with you in warm 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 to help you recognize 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 as the 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.

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