With summer in full swing, local, state and federal officials have begun issuing tips to the public in an effort to keep everyone safer this season.
The Bureau of Land Management will be implementing fire restrictions on public lands in Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Mendocino, Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties beginning Thursday.
“We are implementing these seasonal restrictions to help protect public lands and nearby communities from wildfire,” Walter Herzog, fire management officer for the BLM in northern California, said in a BLM news release. “Dry fuels and high temperatures have significantly increased fire danger, and we need to minimize the potential for fire starts.”
According to the release, the fire restrictions prohibit all campfires and barbecues, except in developed, posted campgrounds and recreation sites. Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of posted campgrounds and recreation sites, with a valid California campfire permit. Permits are available free at BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire offices, and online at permit.PreventWildfiresCA.org.
Other restrictions include:
• No smoking, except at designated areas or within an enclosed vehicle or building.
• No motor vehicles or internal combustion engines off established roads or trails. Chainsaws equipped with spark arresters may be used until 1 p.m. daily.
• No possession or use of fireworks, including “safe and sane” devices. However there is an exception for Forth of July at the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area at the north jetty of Humboldt Bay.
The release states that target shooting will only be allowed on lands managed by the Ukiah Field Office from 30 minutes before sunrise to noon daily. Target shooters must have a shovel and water on hand, and may not use incendiary, tracer, steel core or armor-piercing ammunition, or targets made of material that could emit sparks or explode.
Violating fire restrictions is punishable by fines up to $1,000, 12 months in jail or both, according to the release. For more information, call the Arcata Field Office at 707-825-2300 or the Ukiah Field Office at 707-468-4000.
As far as safety goes, the California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group recommends clearing grass, leaves, or needles on a level, open location at least 10 feet in diameter before building a campfire. It also recommends always keeping a shovel and bucket of water nearby at all times and to never leave a fire unattended. To extinguish a campfire, the group says to use the “drown, stir and feel” method: drown the fire with water, stir around the fire area with a shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash — making sure to wet wood or coal on all sides — and feeling the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering.
According to the California Highway Patrol, summer driving can be more dangerous than winter travel for several reasons — citing vacationing motorists, more teenage drivers and road construction.
“Good planning will make your trip safer for everyone — the driver, passengers, and other motorists,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in the news release. “Be sure you and your vehicle are both ready for your summer adventures.”
The CHP offered these tips:
• Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Summer temperatures place extra stress on vehicles. Check the tires, lights and radiator system.
• Know your route. Caltrans has a mobile app for highway conditions which can also be found online at quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
• Cell phones may only be used hands-free, but it is still safer to stop before making or taking calls, even hands-free.
• Always buckle up.
• Never leave pets, children or the elderly alone in a car for any length of time.
• If your vehicle has a problem, move it to a safe location, if possible off the highway. The shoulder of a roadway, no matter how wide, is not a safe place for repair work.
AAA Northern California added that more than 5.43 million Californians are projected to travel over the Fourth of July holiday, an increase of 5.3 percent from last year and a new state record.
According to the insurance agency, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is nearly 70 cents higher than in 2017, but 4.2 million Californians will drive to their destination over the holiday weekend — nearly 80 percent of the state’s total travelers.
Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists across the country over Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues, according to the release.
Life jacket loans
The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services is offering its Life Jacket Loan Program for the second year, with more than 150 life jackets available at 11 of the county’s waterways.
“Wearing a life jacket can save a life. Between 2011 and 2018, more than 50 people drowned in Humboldt County,” the DHHS news release states. “Local waterways are very cold, have swift currents and can make it impossible to stay afloat without a life jacket.”
According to the Coast Guard, in order to work correctly, life jackets or personal floatation devices must be the appropriate size and be in good condition.
The county also warned the public to never leave a child unattended in or near water; to not drink alcohol before entering the water; to be aware of hazards — such as trees, rocks or other sunken objects — below the surface of river water; to choose flat beaches over those with steep slopes; and to watch for sneaker waves.
The Life Jacket Loan Program is made possible by a 2017 grant from the Sea Tow Foundation. Life jackets range from infant to adult sizes. For more information, call the DHHS Healthy Communities Division of Public Health at 707-268-2132 or go to humboldtgov.org/1647/Life-Jacket-Loan-Program.