San Diego

Fireworks, boating and San Diego beaches. Here's how to stay safe this Fourth of July

These tips can help keep you safe during these popular but also dangerous, San Diego activities

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Fourth of July weekend in San Diego often involves three things that are very popular and can be very dangerous —fireworks, boating and the beach.

Ahead of what is one of the most crowded and most dangerous weekends in San Diego, local authorities shared some tips to stay safe.

The July Fourth holiday brings thousands of visitors to San Diego’s popular beaches, and larger crowds mean more rescues by San Diego Fire & Rescue lifeguards.

Jacob Magness, a lieutenant with SDFD said, “Fourth of July weekend is what we call the Super Bowl of lifeguarding.”

Beach danger

Most of the incidents occur in the ocean, "we recommend that you stay waist deep in the water, with both feet on bottom at all times, there’s a lot of rip currents that are pulling strong, and most important of all swim near a lifeguard,” Magness said.

As for safety in the sand, with so many people and so many kids on the sand, lifeguards recommend families set up an agreed-upon meeting spot if they get separated.

Magness called it a "reunification plan."

"Lifeguard towers have numbers, tell your children we’re swimming at tower 14 ... if we get lost, just go to that lifeguard tower and we’ll find each other,” he said.

Boating danger

Mission Bay is one of the top destinations for aquatic enthusiasts, that means more boats, jet skis, paddleboarders and people in the bay than usual.

There’s no limit to the number of motorized vessels allowed on Mission Bay. This weekend is the most dangerous of weekend of the year.

Rick Strobel, a lifeguard with SDFD, wants people headed out on the water with a motorized vessel to know that it's "Your boat, your responsibility, know the rules before you go on the bay.”

One of the major rules on Mission Bay is that you need a California Boater Card to operate a boat. To get a card you need take an online safety course. SDFD will be on the water this weekend making sure boaters follow the rules.

Strobel said, "if you violate a boating law, expect to be pulled over, issued a citation and your vessel could be impounded. There will be a zero tolerance policy on Mission Bay when it comes to boating enforcement.”

Firework danger

It is also important to remember that all personal-use fireworks are illegal throughout San Diego County. Fireworks are dangerous, especially for children, and they pose a dangerous fire hazard.

The Burn Institute says this weekend is great to remind parents that kids and sparklers are a dangerous combination.

Tessa Haviland, Executive Director of the Burn Institute, says a great alternative to sparklers are glow sticks.

"Glow sticks are great, they last longer and keeps kids visible at night. There’s also LED jewelry that’s Fourth of July themed, so there’s no reason to increase that risk of injury by playing with sparklers or fireworks," Haviland said.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: be safe, be aware and leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Monica Munoz with SDFD said, “Your best, safest bet is to go to professional fireworks show. There are many around San Diego County and they’re very enjoyable, then you don’t have to worry about injuries."

With the Fourth of July coming up this week, Cal Fire is reminding people that fireworks in San Diego County are illegal, unless they're part of a professional show.  NBC 7's Dana Williams tells us why it's important that San Diegans play it safe.
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