APEX, N.C. (WNCN) — The fun of Fourth of July festivities can carry a lot of danger for those enjoying time outdoors, but park rangers are working to remove the risks.
“Every year we’re always having drownings across state parks and in falls,” regional park superintendent Jay Greenwood said.
“It always comes back to (being) very careful and very aware of where your children are, and make sure you take all precautions. We understand people want to have a good time on vacation, but keep that in mind, because we don’t want it turn it to turn into a tragedy.”
Rangers and lake patrol officers from the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission are keeping a close eye on Jordan Lake during the four-day weekend. Park staffer expect thousands of visitors during the holiday break.
Clouds kept crowds away Saturday morning but posed another potential problem.
“You never know. There could be a storm coming, some winds come up and that kind of thing. We’ve been caught in the rain several times out here. It can get quite choppy” Lana Jones said.
Her infant son Raylan wore a tiny life jacket, and her young daughter received assistance from grandparents to put on a preserver.
The park has several of life vest loan stations scattered near swimming areas.
Greenwood said many go missing every year, but he is happy to replace the ones that aren’t returned provided they are used. He said saving a life is worth the extra expense, but he hopes people will bring back the flotation devices when they finish using them.
Plenty of people packed their own, and Eric Jnah even brought a pair for his puppies as his family took a trip on the water.
Rangers hope swimmers will stay in designated beach areas where park staff manage the depth and what is down below.
The last big concern is away from the water — it’s the roads getting to the lake.
“At times, traffic will come to a complete stop on Highway 64. Access areas to the beaches will be so busy, that we actually can’t allow anybody else in. People will try and stop along the highway to ask questions about how to get in,” Greenwood said.
“If you stop, you’re very likely to get hit by another vehicle, so please keep moving.”
Greenwood said terrible wrecks happen at the entrances, so they need drivers to stay aware and safe.