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SACRAMENTO, Calif., – California State Parks invites Californians and visitors from around the world to recreate responsibly this Fourth of July weekend, one of the busiest outdoor holidays of the year. With 279 state parks, California’s diverse landscape has recreational activities for everyone from swimming in the lakes, rivers and oceans to hiking in the giant redwoods or sequoias to off-highway vehicle riding in the deserts and mountains to camping along the coastline. Following simple safety measures such as wearing a lifejacket or proper riding gear, avoiding alcohol, and knowing one’s limits while swimming can help save lives.

Just within the California State Park System, there are over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, 5,200 miles of trails, 3,195 historic buildings and more than 11,000 known prehistoric and historic archaeological sites. There are plenty of outdoor opportunities to spend time with family and friends, reconnect with nature and enjoy the benefits it offers to your mental and physical health

Below you will find helpful tips to stay safe during this holiday weekend:

Wear a Life Jacket:

  • Water-related accidents can happen suddenly and rapidly. Make sure you and your loved ones wear properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Wearing them is the number one way to increase your chances of survival during an accident.
  • Several public and private entities make life jackets available to the public on a loan basis. View Locations

 Protect Your Loved Ones:

  • Supervise children at all times by appointing a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults. Do not assume that someone is watching your children.
  • Know your limits. Swimming in a lake, ocean or river is different than swimming in a pool.
  • If someone is in distress, seek help from a lifeguard or call 9-1-1 if one is not available.

Avoid Alcohol: Operating your boat or an off-highway vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more is against the law. Impaired boaters will be stopped and can be arrested even with lower BAC if the conditions are not safe. Your boat can be impounded.

Ocean Rip Currents: If you get caught in one, stay calm and do not fight the current. Swim or float parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then swim toward the shore.

Learn the Rules of Riding: There are laws specific to operating off-highway vehicles on public lands. Learn about them by visiting the webpage of your outdoor destination prior to leaving home and take a training course.

Trails: Whether you are hiking, horseback riding or operating an off-highway vehicle, stay on designated trails. You are not only protecting natural resources, but you are also ensuring that you do not get lost. Make sure to hike with a buddy.

Leave No Trace: Leave areas better than how you found them by packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

Prepare an Itinerary: No matter what type of recreation activity you will be participating in, leave an itinerary of your trip with a family member/friend with information such as name/age of all participants, travel destination and expected return date. This will ensure law enforcement personnel have a better understanding of your location in the event of a rescue.

Know Before You Go: Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded

As a reminder, fireworks are not allowed in state parks. You can find additional safety tips and information on backpacking, biking, camping, horseback trails, and laws can be found at www.parks.ca.gov/safetytips.