Six Heat Hacks to Stay Safe This Summer

High temperatures can be dangerous for humans and their pets

During the summer, staying hydrated and cool is vital! Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. Most heat illnesses occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has overexerted his or her body for his or her age and physical condition. Anyone can experience a heat illness or even death from heat exposure especially from June to September.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Last summer, Texas’ temperatures soared to record highs and staff at more than 40 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWR) sites handled 134 incidents relating to heat-related illnesses in humans and pets.

The following six heat hacks are courtesy TPWD.

Hydrate: Drink 16 ounces of water for every hour in the heat

Canoeing at Myakka River State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of water every hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration. Drink more water than usual. Avoid drinks with sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Be sure to bring enough for your four-legged family members too.

Block the Rays: Apply liberally and frequently

Jungle Gardens on Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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, good walking shoes, and a wet bandana

Okefenokke National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; a wide-brimmed hat (we recommend a Tilley 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: Bring snacks like jerky, granola, trail mix, tuna, and dried fruit

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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: Hike with a friend

Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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: Take a map and tell someone your hiking route

Fountain Hills, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Study the map and have it with you. The average hiker moves at 2 miles per hour, so allow plenty of time to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. If necessary, rest in a cool or shaded area to recover from the heat. It’s 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.

Amelia Island, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

—Yogi Berra