Health and Safety
Texas isn’t any more dangerous or safer than other U.S. states, but there are several environment-related issues (weather, animals) that set it apart. Travelers with medical issues are encouraged to bring extra supplies of medications and copies of prescriptions—local visitors bureaus can recommend the best pharmacy or medical center, if needed.
Texas’s weather is as volatile as its landscape is varied. Summer temperatures regularly reach triple digits and winters are marked by vicious snowstorms in the Panhandle and Northern Plains. The biggest threat to travelers in winter is ice—bridges and overpasses become slick and are usually closed when a rare ice storm barrels through the state. Since Texans are unaccustomed to dealing with such slippery conditions, they often disregard the danger and plow across a patch of ice in their big, fancy trucks. The results are predictably disastrous.
Heat is by far the most serious threat to Texas travelers. From the sticky humidity of marshy East Texas to the dry desert conditions of the Big Bend region, the summer months (May–Sept. in Texas) can be brutal. Hikers, bikers, and campers are encouraged to pack and carry plenty of water to remain hydrated.
Wildlife, Insects, and Plants
Texas has some bizarre fauna and flora, which can occasionally pose a danger to travelers, particularly those who venture to the state’s parks and natural areas. Of primary concern are snakes, which nestle among rocks and waterways throughout Texas (though rattlesnakes are largely found only in western portions of the state). Also of concern in the Big Bend region are black bears and mountain lions, which hikers and campers should intimidate with loud noises and rocks (seriously) to fend off their advances.
The most dangerous plant in Texas is cactus. There are many varieties in all regions of the state, and even though some appear harmless, they may contain barely visible needles that get embedded in your skin and cause major irritation. With cactus, the best approach is to look but don’t touch.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition