Staying safe Fourth of July weekend

Many people will be out celebrating the Fourth of July early this weekend so officials want to make sure you're staying safe whether you're staying on land or having fun in the water.

Austin police are keeping a close eye out on area lakes and launching "Operation Dry Water". It's aiming to reduce the number of alcohol and drug related tragedies on the water by patrolling the lakes.

The initiative kicks off at 9 p.m. today (6/30) and runs through midnight on Monday (July 3). Officials say since it's began the number of boating fatalities has gone down.

Since "Operation Dry Water" launched in 2009, officers have removed more than 2,500 boating while intoxicated drivers.

There is also a personal watercraft ban in place on Lake Austin which includes jet skis, wet bikes and motorized surfboards. Other devices that aren't motorized (i.e. kayaks, canoes, paddleboards) are allowed. The ban starts at sunset Monday (July 3) evening and wraps up Wednesday (July 5) morning at sunrise.

On the roads, APD is enforcing a "No Refusal" initiative which starts tonight and wraps up Wednesday (July 5) morning. 

Anyone suspected of drunk driving who refuses a breathalyzer will be forced by court order to give a blood or breath sample.

The goal is to get drunk drivers off the road and make sure everyone gets home safely. Officials say as always the best way to do that is to have a designated driver, take public transportation or use a ride hailing service.

Meantime fire officials want to remind people about firework safety. It's probably not too much of a surprise that fire officials say there are more fires on a typical July 4th than any other day of the year.

It's estimated that Americans spend about $250 million on Independence Day fireworks. Remember if you use fireworks they are illegal inside Austin city limits unless a permit has been issued for a public display

Using, selling and possessing fireworks can result in a fine of up to $500 and that's if no one is hurt in the process.

If someone is injured or property damaged, police can file felony assault or arson charges.

The National Fire Protection Association reports about 12,000 people were treated for firework related injuries at emergency rooms across the U.S. in 2015.

If you see someone setting off fireworks illegally in Austin you're asked to call 3-1-1.

Smaller fireworks are allowed. You can see what is here.