Coast Guard, local city officials offer safety tips for July 4 weekend

July 4th

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) ⁠— The Coast Guard, Virginia State Police, and surrounding localities are urging everyone to take extra precautions this holiday weekend.

Here are some helpful tips to play it safe while still enjoying the weekend festivities.

Beaches

Virginia Beach city officials said that the Oceanfront is expecting thousands of people visiting the beaches this weekend.

Beachgoers are reminded to follow precautions regarding rip current dangers posted on beaches they visit, and not to swim on beaches after hours, or when a lifeguard is not present.

Boating

The Coast Guard recommends the following safe practices:

  • Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or impairing medication.
  • It is against federal law to operate a vessel with .08% blood alcohol content or higher.
  • Boaters are reminded that the best way to get help if in danger is to have an effective form of communication.
  • Maintain a reliable means of communication such as a VHF radio and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Marine radios that can broadcast and receive transmissions over VHF-FM CH-16 are the best way to let the Coast Guard and other mariners know you’re in trouble.
  • Always wear a life jacket aboard a vessel.
  • Be familiar with the area you are boating in.
  • Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and when you will return.
  • Listen to safety zones, safety bulletins, and emergency broadcasts via VHF-FM channel 16.
  • Label your paddle craft, like kayaks and canoes – write your name and a contact number with indelible ink or a labeling sticker in the event it gets lost.
  • Bring water, sunblock, and required medication when heading out on your boating venture.
  • Do not impede navigable channels if watching fireworks from the water.
  • Watch the weather. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly by radio or by checking the NWS website at nws.noaa.gov.

“We want mariners and beachgoers to enjoy Fourth of July festivities but also stay safe,” said Rear Adm. Keith Smith, Coast Guard Fifth District Commander. “Help keep you and your loved ones safe by wearing a life jacket, filing a float plan, labeling your watercraft, and never operate any boat or other watercraft while under the influence.”

For more information visit uscgboating.org.

Closures

A list of Hampton Roads city closures can be found here.

Coronavirus Reminders

Virginia Beach, along with other localities, is reminding the public that the coronavirus is still a significant risk and extra safety precautions should be taken to avoid contracting the virus.

  • Avoid large gatherings of people and sharing living spaces with people outside your immediate household.
  • Practice social distancing: stay 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.
  • Wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in public, particularly indoors.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when sick, except when seeking medical care.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, including in your home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes when not wearing a face covering.
  • Anyone who has been in a large gathering or other setting where social distancing and face covering were not being practiced should contact their healthcare provider.

“If you opt to take advantage of the nice weather, please adhere to Phase III guidelines and remember, we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” said Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer.

“We want to avoid the major increases in cases other states are seeing. Reopening is so important and yet, it is also a fragile situation, so we urge everyone to adhere to the guidelines. We all have a hand in keeping ourselves and others safe.” 

Executive Order 63 currently requires Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings and other areas where maintaining physical distancing is not possible.

Drive Safe | Plan Ahead

As the state continues into phase 3, the Virginia State Police is encouraging everyone to plan ahead when it comes to traveling this weekend.

If you will be drinking alcohol, arrange a designated driver, use a rideshare service or taxi, or utilize public transportation to be certain you get home safely. 

State Police will increase patrols from midnight on Friday, July 3, through midnight Sunday, July 5, as part of the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort.

Police officials said that last year under Operation C.A.R.E., Virginia troopers arrested 79 drunk drivers, cited 5,517 speeders, 1,774 reckless drivers, issued 742 individuals for failing to obey the law and “buckle up.” There were seven traffic deaths on Virginia highways last year during the three-day July 4 holiday.

“Summer days are filled with celebration, including vacations, outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts, but no matter where your plans take you, please make safety your priority,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent.

“Regardless of the distance you’re traveling this week – across the country or around the corner – remember to buckle up, eliminate distractions and never drive buzzed or drunk. If we all do our small part, we increase everyone’s chances of having a safer holiday weekend.”

Fireworks

The 4th of July holiday is going to look different this summer. Local cities have canceled their annual, professional firework displays because of the coronavirus pandemicWhile you may be tempted to celebrate the holiday with your own show, know that personal firework use is banned in Virginia.

Information on specific fireworks codes by city can be found here.

Wondering how you can celebrate the festivities on July 4? A list of local events and ideas can be found here.


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