The New York State Police and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) want to remind New Yorkers and visitors to continue to follow our state laws and guidelines to ensure an enjoyable and safe summer season.
With the switch to our warmest season comes travel, outdoor recreation, and social gatherings. Some of our most popular activities in the Adirondacks are camping, boating, barbeques, July 4th gatherings and hiking. While out hiking in the Adirondack region and gathering around campfires, it is important to practice good judgment and always keep safety in mind.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important to practice safe social distancing and follow all New York State Department of Health and CDC guidelines.
On Thursday, members of the New York State Police and DEC’s Division of Forest Protection and Division of Law Enforcement highlighted numerous safety topics to educate the public on safe summer recreation. Topics included wildfire prevention, backcountry preparedness, impaired driving and boating, and boating safety.
State Police reminded the public to stay sober behind the wheel and while operating boats and ATVs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol related crashes claim the lives of more than 10,000 people each year; that’s almost 30 people each day and one death every 50 minutes. State Police said while these numbers have decreased in recent decades, there is still more work to be done. Impaired operation is a choice, and when drivers make that choice people can get seriously injured or die. These are preventable tragedies, and together we can lower the number of serious injuries or deaths.
In an effort to prevent impaired driving or operation, State Police offer these tips:
- Find the safest way to get home. If you plan on drinking at the summer barbeque, on the water, or at the beach--- hand your keys over to a sober friend, or call for a ride.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, call the police.
- Don’t allow someone else to drive impaired. Help them find a safe way home.
Also, always use good judgement behind the wheel. Arrive at your destination safely by buckling up, driving sober, and putting down your electronic devices.
DEC Forest Rangers encouraged New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly this summer. Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff highlighted the dangers of heat, the importance of being prepared, and choosing activities appropriate for their experience and fitness levels. Hikers can learn more about hiking safety and preparedness by visiting DEC’s Hike Smart NY webpage: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html. DEC also recommends visitors review the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace at https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/.
Captain Streiff also reminded New Yorkers to continue recreating locally, practice safe social distancing, avoid busy trails, and wear masks at trailheads and anywhere else proper social distancing cannot be maintained. Further guidance for outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis can be found at: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/119881.html.
DEC also reiterated that carelessly managed campfires are a leading cause of wildfires in New York State. New Yorkers can prevent forest fires by using existing campfire rings, clearing campfire areas of debris and other flammable materials, properly extinguishing campfires, and never leaving campfires unattended.
As DEC campgrounds continue to reopen, reservation holders are reminded to come prepared, practice proper social distancing, secure all food from bears and other wildlife, and closely monitor children, especially near water. Forest Rangers also asked that campers carry out what they carry in and properly dispose of trash to help keep campgrounds clean.
Echoing the New York State Police message, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Captain Dan Darrah stressed the importance of not boating under the influence. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. The federal legal BAC limit for operating a vessel is .08, and the effects of alcohol are intensified by sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion on boats. Distracted boating, or boating and texting, should also be avoided.
Captain Darrah also addressed proper boat safety measures, including wearing or carrying Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), also known as life jackets. Life jackets are the most important piece of safety equipment for boaters. In boating accidents, survival rates have proven higher for people wearing life jackets.
Every vessel operated in New York State, both motorized and non-motorized, must have one United States Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket for each person aboard. These life jackets must be serviceable, readily available, and of the appropriate size for the wearer. Wearing a life jacket is required by law for children under the age of 12 aboard most recreational vessels, everyone being towed, and everyone aboard a Personal Watercraft, or jet ski. Also, following the signing of Brianna’s Law last year, the state is phasing in requirements that all operators of motorized watercraft must complete a state-approved boating safety course. For more information go to: https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating/