ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Ahead of the long Fourth of July weekend, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office is sharing a few tips to keep everyone safe.

The Fourth of July weekend is filled with traveling, fireworks, and boating fun, but unfortunately, it’s also one of the deadliest holiday weekends.

“In 2020, nearly 500 people were killed on this weekend across the country,” said Sheriff Maciol. “More than 40 percent of those were as a result of people making the destructive decision of drinking and driving.”

He continued, “So don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, make sure everybody’s wearing their seatbelt – these are all commonsense things, but unfortunately, we have to continue to repeat them and repeat them.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that publicizing consequences leads to reductions in fatalities because people are less likely to drive while impaired if they are aware of the repercussions. 

But driving on the roads isn’t the only place people will be driving this weekend – they’ll also be driving on waterways.

“We know people are going to have a good time and they want to relax and enjoy some cold, legal beverages, for their age,” said Maciol, “But at the same time if you are going to drink you can’t be operating that vessel.”

If you’re planning on drinking this weekend, the Sheriff suggests that everyone has a plan – whether it be a designated driver or a ride-sharing app.

“Again, we don’t want to have to knock on someone’s door and make a notification for someone being injured or killed as a result of someone drinking and driving,” said Maciol, “So please keep that in mind.”

And although complaints have been low so far this year, it’s also important to remember the rules associated with fireworks. In Oneida County, it’s only legal to use sparking devices that are lit from the top.

“We call them sparkling devices,” said Maciol. “What we are referring to is sparklers that kids traditionally will hold.”

He continued, “The easiest way to describe it is – and we could get into all the different types of fireworks – but if the device is lit from the top of it, it’s legal to buy and to use. If it’s lit from the bottom, and it launches into the air, it’s illegal.”

“So your fireworks, your M80’s, your bottle rockets, those are illegal those have always been illegal.”

Like Sheriff Maciol said, please use caution this weekend in an effort to keep everyone safe but be sure to have some fun as well.