Visitor's death raises heat concerns at Palo Duro Canyon

Visitor's death raises heat concerns at Palo Duro Canyon
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

CANYON, TX (KFDA) - Following the death of a 53 -year-old woman over the Fourth of July holiday, Palo Duro Canyon officials are urging park visitors to take extra precautions for the heat.

Superintendent Shannon Blalock said heat-related injuries are the most common type of emergency situations they handle. Blalock said multiple calls were received about heat-stricken visitors over the weekend and other one was made Tuesday.

"Days like today when the high temperatures are suppose to be 104 or 106 degrees, if you don't have to be outside don't," Blalock said. "If you choose to come out to the Canyon and hike, do it early and make sure you take enough water with you. We advise a gallon of water per person per mile. You have to stay hydrated when the temperatures are what they are here in the Panhandle during the summer."

When temperatures hit triple digits, officials will go out on UTV's and hand out water to those who start showing heat-related symptoms.

Bike volunteers will also scout popular trails - like the Light House and Capitol Peak - but some of the most helpful aid comes from visitors themselves.

"Often times we learn about emergencies or incidents that are leading up to medical emergency from visitors," Blalock said. "Visitors will call us or flag us down and that helps us tremendously because with 2,800 acres and 40 miles of trails 20 staff members can't do it alone."

The park is working closely with the National Weather Service to provide weather information and has even installed a new weather kiosk inside the visitors center.

"There is a touch screen monitor at the visitor center that folks can walk up to and get real-time weather data," Blalock adds. "(Visitors) can see heat advisories as they are issued, this gives us one more tool our visitors can use to see what conditions are."

Common symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, faintness, excessive sweating and muscle cramps. Blalock said hikers who feel any of those symptoms should take a break, drink extra water, or even discontinue their trail.

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