Whether it’s on a boat, at a BBQ, or in the car, don’t be a statistic this July 4th!

28 June 2024- Fourth of July weekend isn’t the kickoff to summer, but really is the highlight for many. Knowing that, many will be looking to relax, drink some alcoholic beverages, and unwind. That being said, don’t make yourself a statistic during the July 4th holiday!

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues to encourage Pennsylvanians to keep safety at the forefront this holiday weekend and all summer long,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “Whether your plans this summer include hiking, biking, boating, or a backyard barbecue, PennDOT urges motorists to always plan ahead and designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation. Never drive impaired!”

According to PennDOT data, in 2023 there were 38 alcohol-related crashes from July 4 through 6:00 AM July 5, resulting in two fatalities and 23 injuries. During the same time, there were 10 drug-related crashes, resulting in one fatality and eight injuries.

Last summer, from June through August, there were 2,375 crashes involving impaired driving, resulting in 116 fatalities and 1,575 injuries.

DCNR manages 124 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forest lands that permit recreational activities including boating and ATV riding. Pennsylvania ranks top five in the U.S. for ATV crashes, with many of those incidents involving alcohol.

Possessing, selling or consuming alcoholic beverages is prohibited on DCNR lands except at specially designated facilities operated or leased by the department. DCNR reminds visitors to practice safe behavior, follow recreation guidelines, and to comply with all posted safety signage.

“Whether in transit to and from our beautiful parks and forests or using a motorized vehicle to spend time in nature, we encourage all visitors to be responsible as we celebrate our independence,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Safety is extremely important when spending time outdoors and we encourage visitors to always practice safe behavior when taking in nature on public lands.”

Over the holiday period, the Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the Fourth of July Impaired Driving Campaign. This effort is funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution of nearly $6 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for impaired driving enforcement.

“State troopers and municipal law enforcement officers remain vigilant for impaired driving behaviors and take a zero-tolerance approach toward motorists found under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances,” said PSP Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris. “Celebrate the holiday safely by staying sober on the roads.”

Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 39 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2023.

Pennsylvania is a boating destination state, and boaters drive to and from their boating location. When an impaired boat operator gets behind the wheel to drive home, a BUI becomes a DUI.

Besides the dangers of impaired driving, Pennsylvania residents should keep an eye out for other potential health concerns during Independence Day weekend.

“Many Pennsylvanians spend a lot of time outdoors for Fourth of July celebrations; wearing sunscreen helps protect skin from harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin cancer,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen. “Choose sunscreens that are ‘broad-spectrum’ with UVA and UVB protection and have an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if residents are in direct sunlight.”

Additionally, spending extended periods of time outside when the weather is warmer can lead to heat-related illnesses. Older adults are especially susceptible to the intense heat. For information on preventing heat-related illnesses or identifying heat-related symptoms, visit the Department of Health’s webpage.

Individuals seeking substance use treatment or recovery resources can be connected to local substance use disorder (SUD) resources by calling the toll-free PA Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or by using Treatment Atlas, a free, online locator tool to help Pennsylvanians confidentially find SUD treatment that meets their needs.

For Pennsylvanians celebrating at home this weekend, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner has launched a new fireworks safety campaign which can be seen across the state or online at osfc.pa.gov/fireworks. During today’s event, the OSFC recommended the following precautions for handling fireworks to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees, as hot as a blow torch. They are the number two cause of fireworks-related visits to the ER.
  • Have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water, or hose handy in case of a fire.
  • Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  • Place any spent or “dud” fireworks in a bucket of water for several hours before throwing them away.
  • Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol or other medications or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly to an emergency.
  • Wear safety glasses.
  • Know where each firework lands and make sure to clean up spent fireworks. Do not assume that a rocket or other airborne firework has landed safely and extinguished itself.

“Fireworks are capable of causing serious injury or death and must be treated with extreme caution,” said Deputy State Fire Commissioner John “J.C.” Tedorski. “In 2022, Fireworks were involved in more than 10,000 visits to the ER. And in 2018 fireworks started 19,500 fires and caused over $100 million in property damage. A few simple precautions can ensure that you are not contributing to these alarming statistics.”

If you have travel plans this holiday weekend, “Know Before You Go” by checking the Holiday Travel Restrictions at www.511PA.com. While PennDOT will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible, the Holiday Travel Restrictions shows interstate restrictions that will be in place during the holiday travel period.