Palo Duro Canyon (KFDA) - The Harrington Cancer and Health Foundation is partnering with Palo Duro Canyon State Park to provide free sunscreen to visitors all summer long.
During the summer, the Texas Panhandle experiences some of the highest UV ray index values in the country. That means sunburns and skin cancer are a significant threat.
The design behind the new dispensers is to help cut down on that threat.
"They'll be placed at every restroom," said Director of Operations for the Harrington Cancer and Health Foundation Ryan Parnell. "[That is] because those are important places within Palo Duro Canyon. Every restroom, and at the busy trail heads."
Accompanying the dispensers will be informational signs with sun safety tips. Visitors will also be able to see the expected UV risk as they enter the park.
The program is designed to make sure no visitor has a bad experience.
"The park cares about it's visitors," said Parnell. "When we came to them and said 'hey would you be willing to allow us to put sunscreen in the park and make it available?' They jumped at the chance. They want their visitors to have a good time, they want their visitors to have a great experience. Leaving, and the next day, not being sun burnt really bad, means more than likely it was a great experience."
The Texas Panhandle experiences some of the most sun exposure in the country.
According to an EPA graph, the average sun exposure in the month of July is a level 9.
Texas Oncology treats farmers and ranchers dealing with skin cancer all the time.
"One thing I do here a lot from my older farmers and ranchers is 'hey, we didn't really think about it that much when I started farming and ranching,'" said Texas Oncology Practice Administrator Eric Palmer. "Here I am, many years later, dealing with multiple skin cancers, and needing to deal with these things where I wished I had thought about it more back then."
Palmer believes prevention is all about thinking ahead.
"The important part is really just thinking and being aware of how long am I going to be in the sun, and protecting any exposed skin," said Palmer. "Other than the discomfort of having a sunburn tomorrow, it's the potential of the skin cancer down the line that I have to be aware of."
The new dispensers should put the Panhandle in a league of its own.
"[Once installed,] it [will be] the only park in Texas that provides sunscreen free of charge to it's visitors," said Parnell. "Another unique piece that we have here in the Panhandle and at the state park."
Palo Duro Canyon is aiming to have the dispensers up and running by the end of the month.