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Wet spring brings hidden dangers for Memorial Day weekend
Officials stress safety
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Holiday safety tips

• Obtain necessary permits needed for campfires
• Clear away grass, leaves and other debris within a 10-foot perimeter of any campfire
• Have a responsible person in attendance at all times
• Ensure all campfires are completely extinguished before leaving
• When barbequing, never leave the grill unattended

In the Water:
• Always wear a life jacket!
• Children should always be supervised by a responsible adult
• Never swim alone
• Drinking and swimming is just as dangerous and drinking and driving.

For more ways to be safe during the Memorial Day Weekend visit the CAL FIRE website at

This spring season's above average rainfall has led to an abundance of both grass and brush and high, swift and cold river flows - each brings its own danger to recreating Californians.
Despite rain as recent as this week, the grass and brush in many areas has begun to dry out and is becoming increasingly flammable. CAL FIRE crews have already seen an increase in the number of wildfires, even with the late rain.
"Many people don't realize that most of the low lying grass only takes an hour to dry out," said Chief Ken Pimlott, acting director of CAL FIRE. "This weekend's weather forecast appears to be great for outdoor activities, but people still need to be cautious this time of year, because the grass can burn."
Wildfires are not the only danger posed by the outdoors; drownings also dramatically increase during the Memorial Day weekend. Last year, 570 recreational boating accidents occurred in California that involved 283 injuries and 49 fatalities. Approximately 75 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. Officials stressed that knowing how to swim does not make swimmers drown-proof. A properly fitted life jacket significantly increases the chances of surviving a boating accident. A life jacket can also provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.
"All the runoff from this winter's storms has increased the amount of water and flow in our rivers and lakes," said Chief Pimlott.
The State Department of Boating and Waterways has also partnered with fire stations across California and the CSU Sacramento Aquatic Center to make life jackets available for the public to loan. An individual or family can check out life jackets for a day or a weekend simply by completing a loan form. The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department is also participating in the program, with locations in Empire, 4845 Yosemite Blvd., 549-8402; Waterford, 321 E St., 874-2123; and Riverbank, 3318 Topeka St., 549-8406. A complete list of life jacket loaning locations can be found at
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.