Staying safe this Fourth of July: FOX 7 Focus

With July 4 just a few days away, some will be hitting the roads, some will be hitting the water and some might even light off a few fireworks to celebrate.

ATCEMS Capt. Darren Noak sits down with FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak to talk about what you need to know to stay safe this holiday in this FOX 7 Focus.

JOHN KRINJAK: We saw four deadly crashes last weekend in our area. Looking ahead to the 4th of July, you know, what are your concerns with so many people hitting the roads?

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: Right. Well, we certainly expect more people to be out and about and traveling the highways, that's for sure. This [past] weekend was a deadly weekend over the area, and we certainly don't want to repeat that over the 4th of July holiday.


JOHN KRINJAK: With that in mind, we're expecting possibly record-breaking travel volume on the roads for the Fourth. What advice would you have for drivers before they get behind the wheel?

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: But the same standard message that we always put out. And that's number one: wear your seatbelt. It starts with that. Just click it. Obviously, we don't want people driving under the influence. You also want to be driving for the road conditions. Keep in mind speed limits. They're there for a reason. And that's for your safety as well. 

JOHN KRINJAK: So now that we have heard about quite a few drownings lately on area lakes, particularly, Lake Travis has. Austin-Travis County EMS have seen more than you usually would for this time of year. 

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: So, so far this year, since May, also, Travis County EMS has responded to 22 drowning incidents. Compared to last year, at the same time frame, there were 17.

JOHN KRINJAK: When you say drowning incident, does that necessarily indicate a fatality?

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: No. With a drowning incident, you can have non-fatal and fatal drownings.

JOHN KRINJAK: With all that in mind. Obviously, a lot of people are going to be out on the water for the 4th of July. What do they need to know to stay safe if you're going to be swimming or boating?

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: Sure. So obviously, if you're boating and, even when you're swimming to, you know, first and foremost, wearing a [life jacket], there's no shame in that, especially if your swimming ability is not up to par. Having someone who's assigned specifically to be a water guardian, whether that's in the lake or pool or whatever, you know, somebody that's really there to monitor everybody in the party and make sure they're accounted for and that everybody is safe. Some of the other things to consider in a lake environment, obviously, are underwater obstructions. You know, Lake Travis is a flood control lake. So it's up and it's down. You know, it's pretty far down right now. There's a lot of underwater obstructions that could come into play, whether you're swimming or diving or recreating there. The other thing is, you know, a lot of people are going off and hanging out behind the back of the boat, but, make sure you're doing that when that boat's not running. Number one, and especially when it's not in gear, because you can be overcome by carbon monoxide fumes, or you can get in an issue with the proper back there as well.


JOHN KRINJAK: The last thing I want to ask you about fireworks is. They're obviously illegal here within Austin city limits, but they are legal in some places. Obviously, they can be dangerous, even deadly, if you don't know what you're doing. What advice do you have for people who might be considering using fireworks this holiday?

CAPT. DARREN NOAK: I think our biggest advice is going to be, you know, leave it to the professionals. We do know, and we do see injuries caused by fireworks at least two times a year in periods of New Year's Eve related issues on 4th of July. As you said, you know, illegal in the city for sure. But if you are going to be in an area that allows fireworks, don't relight fireworks. Have a bucket of water there that you can throw the duds into and consider. You know, right now we're in a pretty dry time. And that could also cause a fire. A lot of times, you know, we focus on fireworks, but also consider sparklers, right? They, you know, you think those are safe, but those things burned out over 2000 degrees. And what do we do? We hand them off to the little kids. So, sparkler injuries or children or, any issue as well, so that you have got to really be careful with sparklers, too.

JOHN KRINJAK: All right. Capt. Darren Noak with Austin-Travis County EMS. Capt. Noak, thank you for being here. Happy Fourth to you. We appreciate your time. 

JOHN KRINJAK: Thank you very much. Y'all be safe. Happy Fourth.