MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Authorities are urging locals to have fun this July 4th holiday but also keep in mind safety on all fronts. Whether you're handling fireworks on land, out on the boat or driving, here's how to avoid dangerous situations for you and your family.
Those out on the water, should be aware various law enforcement agencies will be conducting safety inspections and boaters shouldn't be surprised if they are stopped for a routine check.
One of the most important pieces of safety equipment that should be aboard every vessel is the life jacket. Everyone needs to have a life jacket. Children under the age of six are required to wear them.
Statistics show 90 percent of fatalities on the water are people who were not wearing a life jacket.
In Florida, drinking while boating is a big problem that maritime law enforcement officers want the boating public to be aware of. That's why officers will also be conducting "boating under the influence checks." Those who opt not to follow regulations may face arrest or fines up to $5,000.
Boaters are also urged to stay alert for dive flags. They can be fined $90 for coming too close to a diver.
If you are heading out on the seas, you should:
- Have life jackets
- Share your plan
- Monitor the weather
- Have a designated operator
- Boaters planning to catch big fireworks shows should be aware that there will be a expanded slow speed zone near each event.
The Coast Guard said expanded slow speed area is necessary to protect boaters during the holiday weekend when a significant number of boats are expected to be on the water.
Those on the road, this holiday weekend can try the AAA Auto Club's 'Tow to Go' program which offers a confidential ride home to driver's who have a few too many to drink. You don't even have to be a AAA member.
The tow and ride are both free of charge over the holiday weekend.
The Tow to Go program will provide safe rides home to intoxicated drivers June 30th - July 5th.
"If you're going out to celebrate America's independence, please plan ahead to make sure you and your loved ones get home safely," said Amy Stracke, Managing Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and Executive Director of the ACG Traffic Safety Foundation. "It only takes one impaired driver to turn a celebration into a tragedy for so many others."
Triple-A says since its inception in 1998, 'Tow to Go' has kept more than 24,000 intoxicated drivers off the roads and saved twice as many lives since it was designed to protect everyone on the roads, not just the intoxicated driver.
The number to call is (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246.
Important 'Tow To Go' Guidelines:
- It's a confidential local ride within a 10-mile radius to a safe location
- You can't make an appointment to use the Tow to Go service, it is designed to be used as a last resort so have a designated driver before you have your first drink.
- If a person is too intoxicated to be safely transported in a tow truck, AAA may need to contact law enforcement to assist with getting the intoxicated individual a safe ride home.
- The AAA tow truck takes the vehicle and the driver home.
Fireworks & Firearms
No matter, where you're going, there's bound to be fireworks. The Red Cross say the best way to enjoy fireworks safely is leaving it up to the professionals. If you do decide to take fireworks into your own hands, maker sure to do the following:
- Light fireworks in a safe area, such as a driveway or other paved surface.
- Keep fireworks at least 25 feet away from grassy and vegetated areas.
- Never attempt to relight or alter malfunctioning fireworks. After allowing them to stand for several minutes, discard in a pail of water. Keep a hose and bucket of water nearby.
- Light one firework at a time, and move away quickly. Fireworks should never be held or thrown. Remain a safe distance away from the devices.
- If clothes catch fire, remember to STOP, DROP onto the ground, cover your face, and ROLL over and over until the fire goes out.
- Always have a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never give fireworks to small children.
- Light one firework at a time.
- Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
As a final note. – leave the gun at home. Firing a gun in the air is not only against the law, it's extremely dangerous. Remember, falling bullets kill.
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