The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Offers Safety Tips for the Independence Day Holiday

The United States of America will be celebrating its 244th birthday Saturday, and with that in mind, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is offering some safety tips to our citizens for this holiday.

  “Some of our citizens will be, or have been, taking vacations this week or next out of town,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.  “Some of our citizens will be staying at home this weekend as they will take some time off.  Regardless, I want to remind our citizens that we continue to see an increase in the number of reported COVID-19 cases across the state and in Oconee County.  No matter what you plans are, the Sheriff’s Office continues to recommend to our citizens, and those who are traveling through Oconee County, to continue to follow these good COVID-19 safety guidelines to prevent the further spread of the disease: wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and if soap and water is not available, keep some hand sanitizer or hand wipes close for use.”

  The South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that lane closures on interstate highways for non-emergency highway work are prohibited during the 4th of July holiday travel period and that prohibition is in effect from now until 10pm, Monday, July 6th.  

    Even though Oconee County governmental offices will be closed tomorrow for the 4th of July, Sheriff Crenshaw reminds our citizens that our normal and routine law enforcement operations will proceed as normal during the holiday period and that our dispatch center will be fully staffed and ready to receive calls for service and to dispatch those calls.  Also, the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit will be out on the water, weather permitting, and deputies will be patrolling the county parks and recreation areas as well and will enforce any violations.  Sheriff Crenshaw reminds everyone that open containers are not allowed in park and recreation areas that are operated by Oconee County.  Deputies will also be working to ensure that the entrances to these areas are clear for emergency vehicles.  Sheriff Crenshaw also reminds everyone to always lock the doors to their vehicles and never place valuable items in plain view inside, as those items should be placed in the trunk of a vehicle, if you have one, or locked in your glove compartment.

     Sheriff Crenshaw also recommends the following 4th of July safety tips:

  • Never consume alcohol and operate any type of motorized vehicle or watercraft.  Always have a designated driver and make sure to always buckle up.
  • Expect an increased law enforcement presence and prepare for traffic safety checkpoints.
  • Always have an adult supervise any fireworks activities and never allow children to play with fireworks.  You may want to ignite fireworks away from your pets.  Make sure that your pet wears a tag with contact information in case they become frightened and run away.  It is always a good practice to leave pets inside and close all windows to your home for any fireworks activities.  
  • Always allow a safe distance when igniting fireworks and stay, if you can, in a cool, dry place when you ignite fireworks.  Always keep a hose or a source of water close by. 
  • Even though some 4th of July events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, there are still some events taking place, and you may want to consider going to an event in which fireworks displays are taking place.  This is an alternative rather than igniting them on your property. 
  • Always use barbeque grills outdoors in well ventilated areas and away from anything that could catch fire.  Make sure to use long handed utensils when cooking on a grill.  Always stay around a grill when in operation.
  • Always make sure that everyone on a boat has a personal flotation device that is wearable and of the proper size for everyone that is on a boat.  
  • Make sure your boat navigation lights are working properly and that you have a horn or sound making device.
  • When traveling by vehicle or boat, always be courteous to others and be patient as you travel on the road and the water.  
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen when you are outside and always drink plenty or water and/or sports drinks before, during and after you have been outside to stay hydrated.  
  • Make sure that your homes are properly secured before you leave on vacation and ask for all newspaper and mail services to be stopped or ask someone to collect these items for you while you are gone.  Ask someone check on your property and residences, while you are gone, or consider asking them to house sit for you.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is ready for travel.  Check the tires, brakes, windshield wipers, hoses, belts and all fluids in your vehicle.  Plan out the travel route to your destination and notify a relative or close friend on what that route is, when you leaving and when you expect to arrive at your destination.  
  • Make sure to have water and snacks in your vehicle in case you become stranded.  Also, take frequent breaks when you travel to stop and walk around to refresh yourself. 
  • Avoid distracted driving and never text as you drive.  Some states, counties and municipalities, including the state of Georgia, have a hands free law where motorists can still talk on their phones as long as it is through the use of hands free technology, however, a person cannot hold their phone or support their phone with any part of their body.
  • Always have a fully charged cell phone and a cell phone charger in your vehicle in case you need to call for help.

Submitted by Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, OCSO