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Patrols increasedahead of holidayweekend on roads

With the holiday right around the corner many Surry County residents will spend time with family and friends this weekend. While many may fire up the grill, others will seek to pair that with an adult beverage and a controlled explosion.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and North Carolina State Highway Patrol Commander Col. Freddy Johnson Jr. have both released guidance ahead of the weekend and Independence Day to keep residents safe.

Increased patrols

As is the norm, increased patrols of the roadways have begun, and state officials launched an anti-drunk driving campaign this week that targets drivers of all sorts.

“People should celebrate and have fun this Fourth of July, but if you drink don’t operate an automobile or boat,” North Carolina Department of Transportation leaders said at the launch event held at Falls Lake in Raleigh.

The more well known “Operation Firecracker Booze It & Lose It” campaign is being paired with a boating campaign for those counties with lakes and a higher participation with recreational watercraft than Surry County called “Operation Dry Water.”

No matter what corner of the state someone resides in, the desire of law enforcement and first responders is that their services will not be required. “We want people to have a good time, but it’s never wise to drink and then operate a car, truck, boat or any vehicle,” said Mark Ezzell, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

“If you plan to drink alcohol this holiday weekend, or any day, rely on a designated driver, call a friend, use a cab or a ride-sharing service,” he said.

During the campaign, officials are raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and increasing enforcement patrols to crack down on impaired drivers on roads.

Drivers along US 52 who have made a run to Forsyth County this week can attest, the Highway Patrol is already enforcing their “Booze It & Lose It” campaign. Troopers will remain out in force all the way through July 9 according to the NCSHP.

“It’s easy to celebrate the Fourth responsibly,” said Commander Johnson. He advised that more than one third of the state’s 65 traffic fatalities for the last five years of published data were alcohol related.

“It’s a lot more difficult and often impossible to correct the mistakes people make when they drink and drive. So, please make a plan to get home safely so you don’t risk your life or someone,” Johnson said.

Fireworks, sparklers, and grills

Causey made several statements this week about fireworks in hopes of keeping North Carolinians safe as they celebrate no longer being subjects of the British Empire.

He said this week that fireworks are a traditional part of July 4 celebrations, “but have inherent risks that could ultimately end in serious injury or death.”

“The Fourth of July is a fantastic holiday to celebrate our nation’s independence with family and friends, but it is important to make safety a priority.”

“Our message is simple — leave the fireworks to the professionals,” said Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal. His office said injuries with fireworks have increased by 25% in the United States over the last 15 years and most of those accidents occur on the Fourth of July.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least nine people died in 2022 and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks he said.

After the display do not pick up or touch leftover fireworks because they may still be active. If a child is injured by fireworks, he suggests immediately seeking assistance from a medical professional. Furthermore, if an eye injury occurs, don’t allow a child to touch or rub it, as that may cause even more damage.

With his Fire Marshal hat on he added, “And while a sizzling grill is a welcome sight and smell during celebrations with families and friends, it is important to make safety a priority.”

He noted that almost three quarters of American homes have a grill or a smoker, according to National Fire Protection Association and July is the peak month for grill fires.

While it may seem common sense, Causey reminds everyone that propane and charcoal grills are to be used outside and away from the home or decking.

Watch out for flare ups, he said, by keeping the lid of a gas grill open before lighting it. Remain mindful to the smell of gas for those using it, “If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.”

For those who love the flavor of, and have the patience for, charcoal he reminds that while charcoal starter fluid is okay, do not allow an over eager cousin to come add any other flammable liquid to hasten the process.

A ten-foot buffer zone around the grill should be established to keep little ones and pets away and never leave the grill unattended. When the grilling is done, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Hot and humid with a side of haze

Surry County Emergency Services Chief Eric Southern dialed down on something that is a bit harder to control. He wants folks to be mindful of the weather and of air quality this weekend. He said, “Over the weekend the National Weather Service is predicting that heat and humidity will continue to increase over the next few days, likely peaking on Sunday and Monday.”

“Heat index values of 100-110 degrees are expected across much of the state outside of the mountains during the afternoon and early evening hours those days.”

The haze and smoke from the Canadian wildfires caused a Code Red air quality alert in the Triad on Thursday and remained in Code Orange through midnight Friday.

For the weekend he said, “Our air quality is still projected to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups throughout the weekend and into next week.”



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