Summertime Tips: Camping, Boating, and Fireworks Safety

June is National Safety Month, and as such, we want to touch on some common summertime activities and offer some helpful tips to keep you, your family, and your friends safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

Staying Safe While Camping

Camping is a great way to get back to nature, have a fun time, and build wonderful, long-lasting family memories. However, while you are having fun, it’s important to keep in mind the safety of your family and friends.

These are just a few helpful safety tips to keep in mind when you are camping, whether it’s at a standard campsite, a state campground, or true wilderness camping.

  1. Check the weather forecast before you head out. Weather can be unpredictable at times, but you should know what is expected. Weather conditions like thunderstorms can be very dangerous while camping. Being prepared for inclement weather and having the right gear can make all the difference. 
  2. Make sure you pack the right gear. Besides choosing the right tent, be sure you have warm clothing, proper sleeping bags, lanterns and fuel, matches, a hatchet, and anything else that you may need to keep yourself warm and safe. Always bring along a supply kit that includes a first-aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, batteries, food, water, clothes, and medications.
  3. Protect yourself from the sun. Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round. Many people don’t realize that UV rays from the sun can reach you even on cloudy and hazy days. Use a broad-spectrum (against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and lipscreen with a rating of at least SPF 15. Seek shade when possible during midday hours when the sun’s rays are strongest and cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  4. Keep fire safety at the forefront of your mind. Everyone loves relaxing around a campfire with friends and loved ones, but open fires can be extremely dangerous if you are not careful. Pay close attention to which way the wind is blowing and keep your chairs, clotheslines and tents well removed from the fire and from the direction the smoke and embers are going to travel. A single ember can spark a deadly tent fire if you are not careful.
  5. Be aware of the local wildlife where you are camping. Certain wild animals carry diseases that are dangerous to people. Never touch, feed, or get near wild animals. Store food in sealed containers and keep it well out of the reach of animals. If you bring your family pets, be sure they are vaccinated and always keep a close eye on them. Periodically check for ticks and other insects and remove them promptly.
  6. Above all, stay aware of your surroundings. You should choose your camping location carefully and be sure to always set up camp during daylight hours. You don’t want to wake up to find you’ve set up camp on top of an anthill or snake’s nest. Familiarize yourself with where the paths are, where water is located, and the locations of any hazards.

Enjoy Yourself While Staying Safe on the Water

The week of May 18-24 was Safe Boating Week, and in honor of the recent awareness day, GreeningLaw P.C. wants to give some advice to all the boaters hitting the water this summer. With more than 11 million recreational vessels registered in the U.S., millions of Americans enjoy time on and in the water every year.

In 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard reported there were 4,291 boating incidents, resulting in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and about $46 million in property damage. Stay safe by being prepared and using the appropriate equipment, whether you’re enjoying a ride on a motorized boat, paddling a kayak, or waterskiing.

Avoid alcohol. In Texas, the legal limit when operating a boat is the same as driving a car (i.e., a BAC of 0.08%). This applies to personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski) and any boat, including canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and fishing boats. In addition, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is a federal offense. Remember not to overload your vessel, always operate at a safe speed, and be sure you have adequate personal floatation devices for all involved (more on that below).

Q: When are personal floatation devices REQUIRED in Texas?

  • Children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) while underway.
  • All vessels under 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board.
  • Vessels 16 feet and longer, in addition to the Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person on board, must have one Type IV throwable device which must be readily accessible. Canoes and kayaks over 16 feet are exempt from the Type IV requirement.

Best to Leave Fireworks to the Experts

In 2017, at least eight people died and about 12,900 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, thousands were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

More fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Each year, fireworks cause on average 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires resulting in thousands of injuries.

Legal Issues with Fireworks in Texas

In the state of Texas, it’s illegal to shoot fireworks within city limits and, in many cities, it’s also illegal to possess them. Selling, igniting, or even simply possessing fireworks within city limits can carry hefty fines approaching $2,000.

While it may be legal to shoot fireworks in unincorporated areas, you may only do so if you own the property or obtain written permission from the property owner. In addition, it’s illegal to shoot fireworks from a public roadway, public property, park, lake or U.S. Corps of Engineer property. If you start a fire by shooting fireworks and it’s found to be intentional, you may be charged with arson. Even if a fire is determined to be accidental, you may still be subject to a fine. In either of these cases, you run the very real risk of being held civilly liable for any damages.

We Are Here to Help

At GreeningLaw P.C., we understand that summertime is a special time of the year. Children are out of school, the weather is warm, and it’s a wonderful time to get out, explore, and get into adventures. And if you follow the tips outlined above, you can greatly decrease your chances of an accident or injury.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even if you follow all the rules, plans can still go awry, and others can ruin your summer due to carelessness and/or negligence.

Should the unfortunate happen and you or a loved is injured due to the negligence of a third party or due unsafe equipment (e.g., pool, Jet Ski, fireworks, etc.), you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Recognized as one of the leading personal injury law firms in Texas, GreeningLaw P.C. is here to help. We offer free consultations in which we review the elements of your case, discuss any possible compensation, and recommend the best course of action.

Call or schedule a free consultation online and let us handle your case so you can start focusing on the things that matter most to you again.

We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal, and we hope everyone enjoys a happy, safe summer!

Sources:

  1. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/safety/life_jackets/
  2. Safety at Home. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2019, from https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/fireworks