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July is National Picnic Month

Each July the Nation celebrates Independence Day with fireworks, parades and picnics. It's a time to relax with family and friends, enjoy cooking and eating in the outdoors and gather in celebration. But don’t put away your red & white plaid blanket just yet! If you enjoy grilling and chilling in the outdoors, then you are in luck because July is National Picnic Month. Texas Children in Nature encourages you to make the most of the month by picnicking in as many parks as possible this month. Here are some of our top picks for picnicking this July or any time.

Austin Area:

Enjoy a picnic on the great lawn at Zilker Park in downtown Austin.

Spend the day or the weekend at Sawyer Park on Lake Georgetown.

Caprock Region:

Escape into the canyon at Buffalo Springs Lake Park and discover an oasis on the Caprock.

All Lubbock parks are great, but Mackenzie Park is accessional for picnicking.

Coastal Bend:

Nothing beats spending a day at the beach with family and friends and the Padre Island National Seashore is a great place to escape.

North Texas:

Lake Tawakoni Park; William Blair Jr. Park; Rockwood Park;

Pineywoods:

Tyler State Park; Buckhorn Creek Park;

Rio Grande Valley:

Hugh Ramsey Nature Park; Westside Park;

San Antonio:

Martin Luther King Park; Calaveras Lake Park;

Texas parks are bountiful with a variety of species, climates, and environments. It’s not hard to get lost in the raw beauty that its parks offer. However, don’t let the fun distract you from the potential dangers that lie within them, especially in the summer. While some parks are home to large animals that can pose a threat to humans, other parks are dangerous in less obvious ways. Check out these safety tips before you head out to one of Texas’ many parks to keep yourself safe from the heat and the bugs.

Stay hydrated: Keep lots of water on hand. It’s recommended to drink water once every 15 minutes while in the sun. Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, and sugary drinks. It’s a good idea to carry sports drinks with you, as well, as they provide many of the vitamins and minerals you’ll lose from sweating.

Wear appropriate clothing: How do you protect your limbs from the bugs while trying to stay cool? Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored long pants and long sleeve shirts is advised to prevent insect bites while allowing air to keep your skin cool. Open-toed shoes are not suggested to wear when outside. Applying repellent is an easy way to provide extra protection.

Avoid Peak Hours: It’s coolest in the mornings and evenings, so plan your time outside accordingly.

Use Sunscreen: No matter what time of the day you’re outside in Texas, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to wear sunscreen at all times. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.

Avoid outbreaks: To the extent possible, travelers should avoid known foci of epidemic disease transmission. The CDC Travelers’ Health website provides updates on regional disease transmission patterns and outbreaks (www.cdc.gov/travel).

Know when the mosquitoes are out: Mosquitoes can carry life-threatening diseases like Zika Virus, Malaria, and West Nile Virus, so it’s important to know when they’re most active. Although mosquitoes may bite at any time of day, it’s most common to get bit during dusk hours, especially in wooded, shaded areas near water.

Check for ticks and chiggers: Check yourself throughout the day for ticks and chiggers. For those that don’t know, chiggers, often known as berry bugs, are a species of mite that find a tight place on your body to feed from (behind the knee, between your sock and ankle, elbow, etc.). They don’t carry Lyme Disease or any other diseases like ticks do, but they can leave a nasty itch for a few days.

Insecticides and repellents: Insecticides and repellents don’t actually repel bugs away from you – they just make you invisible to the bugs! Apply to clothing or directly on the skin. Avoid direct inhalation or consumption.