Heat safety for hikers, trail walkers

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - As the temperature goes up, so do reports of medical-related rescues at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Officials said the triple-digit heat has been the main cause.

As it starts to heat up in South West Oklahoma, many hikers and trail walkers have been suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Quinton Smith, Visitor Services Manager of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, said it’s a lack of preparation.

“Make sure when you’re coming out to the refuge to hike you know what the temperatures are going to be. That you have experience or at least know where you’re going and that you plan your day so that you’ll be hiking in the cooler parts of the day. Either before lunch or in the evening time,” Smith said.

Jamie Hennessee, a paramedic and manager for Comanche County Memorial Hospital also said extended time in the heat can affect your skin.

“Your skin to the sun, right it’s very important to wear sunscreen and that you wear light clothing to limit that exposure as well. What we don’t want to do is get a sunburn or things like that, depending on how long a person stays outside they can actually get a second-degree burn, just from extended sun exposure,” Hennessee said.

She also said certain drinks can dehydrate you while out in the warm weather.

“They need to focus primarily on drinking water for their hydration. Take an opportunity to avoid dehydrating beverages such as caffeine, tea, soda pop, and things like that. That kind of drink kind of depletes us as far as hydration, so we will want to focus on water,” Hennessee said. “Shade is a huge thing, you need to take water with you, but you also need to find shade. We certainly encourage hiking, you know that promotes so much health and mental well-being, however, it can be very dangerous quickly if you veered off-trail or don’t go out there prepared and have adequate water resources available to you.”

Smith and Hennessee said people need to know their limits and pace themselves when out hiking or walking trails.

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