Most visitors to Big Thicket National Preserve experience few problems besides mosquitoes and chiggers. However, there are several environmental hazards that visitors should be aware of. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.
Swimming and Boating
Drowning is the primary cause of death in the Big Thicket. The National Park Service does not recommend swimming in Preserve waterways. There are no designated swimming areas in Big Thicket National Preserve. Village Creek and the Neches River may appear calm, but they often have strong currents that can carry away even the strongest swimmers. Shallow sandbars sometimes end in steep drop-offs.
All children under the age of 13 years are required to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) when boating. All boats must have a PFD for each person on board.
Heat and Dehydration
Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the U.S. While the temperature here rarely exceeds 95 degrees F, high humidity can make it feel much hotter. The high humidity interferes with the body's natural cooling mechanism, the evaporative cooling of sweat.
To avoid heat stress and dehydration:
- Drink plenty of water and/or sports drinks before, during, and after your hike. It is just as important to replace electrolytes lost during sweating as it is to replace fluids. Keep in mind that thirst is not a reliable indicator of dehydration. Drink often, even if you don't feel thirsty.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, as these increase fluid loss.
- Know and watch for the warning signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.