The Fourth of July is a popular holiday for Americans. Tons of celebrations take place for our nation’s “birthday” and most occur outdoors.

The many lakes and rivers of East Texas will be buzzing with activity. In fact the outdoor celebrations have been going on since last weekend.

Backyard barbecues, music festivals, camping and lastly the major outdoor activity will be fireworks. Many cities host a fireworks display open to the public and free. This is family entertainment at it’s best.

Honoring our great nation and historical leaders who have built the best country in the world is a holiday we can all be proud of.

A few words of caution for outdoor activities to help make this year’s 4th a safe one.

The boaters will be out in full force today and this weekend. Some people who own boats actually only use them once per year and that will be this weekend. Add alcohol to the less experienced boater and trouble will soon follow.

Keep this in mind as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be cruising area lakes and rivers looking for offenders. A boating under the influence or BUI is just as serious as a DUI — costly, dangerous and tragically can be deadly.

Nobody means to hurt themselves or others, but accidents happen and alcohol increases the odds exponentially.

If your boat is seldom used, check everything out before ever leaving the house. Batteries, registration and all mechanical issues should be tested before heading to the lake. Additional gear such as personal floatation devices, fire extinguishers and proper lighting are required, so be aware and mark these off your checklist before getting to the lake.

Nobody wants to work on their outboard at the boat ramp while everyone else is zooming around having fun.

This goes for personal watercraft as well and a quick “once over” in the driveway will eliminate problems on the lake.

Watching fireworks from a boat is a cool way to enjoy the show. Be aware of where the debris from the fireworks will fall and position your boat accordingly. There are occasions the debris could ignite something in your boat, which could lead to a fire.

After the show, make sure the navigational lights are in proper working condition and remember the lights must remain on at all times the boat is on the lake. Many people will turn their lights off once they reach their anchor point, which is asking for trouble as well as a citation.

These are just a few tips for a safe holiday. Stay hydrated and always be aware of the “other guy” while on the lakes.

Have a safe holiday and enjoy family and friends as we all celebrate our independence.