Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend — safely

The Fourth of July weekend is a great time for celebrating. The weather has been gorgeous, friends and family are visiting, and we have much to be thankful for.

But please, let’s make sure this weekend’s celebrations stay fun for everyone involved.

First and foremost, be aware that fireworks are prohibited on the Kenai Peninsula. While they’re fun to watch, keep in mind, they are dangerous, made up of highly combustible chemicals. Even sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the topic of sparks, it’s important to keep safety in mind if you’re planning a campfire as part of your weekend festivities. We’ve been fortunate that wildfire activity on the Peninsula has been relatively light, but it only takes one spark. Be sure campfires are attended, and fully extinguished before you pack up and leave — and make sure there’s enough water on hand to do so.

If you’re out in the woods, remember to be bear-aware. Keep a clean camp. Regulations in place for the area around the Russian and upper Kenai rivers include keeping any attractant — food, food storage containers, garbage — in a bear-proof container or in a car, or within arm’s reach if you’re fishing along the river’s banks. That’s a good practice wherever you happen to be.

Area land managers also ask that anglers carry their fish out whole, or, use the fish cleaning tables at the confluence of the Russian and the Kenai and at the ferry crossing. Fish carcasses should be cut into small pieces and tossed into the current to prevent the build-up that has been attracting bears to the area.

If you’re going deep into the backcountry or out on an extended boating excursion, make sure you leave a travel or float plan with a trusted friend. Let them know where you’re planning to go and when you expect to be back. Don’t think you can rely on a cell phone if you get into trouble; if you’re overdue, you want searchers to know where to start.
If you’re planning to be out on the water, take a moment before you head to the boat launch to make sure all your safety gear is in good working order. And when you’re out on the water, remember that the best type of life jacket to have is one you’re wearing.

And if, while you’re grilling your burgers, hot dogs and fish, you’d like to have an alcoholic drink or two, please enjoy — but know when to say when, and if you or someone around you has had too much, make sure they’re not getting behind the wheel of a car or tiller of a boat. That’s a recipe for tragedy.

This a is a great weekend to celebrate who we are, and to appreciate all that we have. Let’s make sure we still have plenty to celebrate when the weekend is done.

In short: Happy Independence Day — celebrate safely this weekend.

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