STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Firefighters and law enforcement agencies were gearing and staffing up Friday ahead of what they expect will be a busy holiday weekend.
San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Sgt. Carey Pehl said a hot holiday weekend means more people in the water.
“It’s been kind of one tragedy after another for us this summer,” Pehl told FOX40. “We’ve had multiple drownings and they are tragic.”
Pehl said the number of boating under the influence cases were also up, so he’s doubled the number of officers and boats that will be patrolling county waterways.
He also wanted to remind the public about basic boating and water safety, saying life jackets are a must.
“We want anybody on, in or around the waterways, not just the Delta, if you’re going to one of the area lakes, if you’re going to the rivers, it’s going to be warm this weekend,” Pehl said. “People are looking to cool off. We want people to recreate but we want them do it safely. By all means, have a life jacket on.”
But the danger isn’t only in the water.
On land, firefighters said the extreme heat poses a number of risks.
“Heat illness is something that everybody needs to pay a lot of attention to,” said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Chris Vestal.
Vestal said they anticipate an increase in service calls this weekend and want to let people know it’s important to recognize the signs of heat illnesses.
“If they start getting cool and clammy or sweating more than normal, high heart rates, extra respirations, all those things are things that could mean that you’ve been exposed for too long and that you could be having some type of heat illness,” Vestal said.
Cal Fire was also getting ready.
“Despite the fact that we’re still battling nearly two dozen major wildfires with nearly 13,000 firefighters on frontlines of current fires, we’re making sure that we have plenty of firefighters across the state ready to go should we have additional wildfires,” said Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant.
He said while Cal Fire crews were making good progress fighting to contain the lightning complex fires, he was calling on everyone to do their part.
“We just cannot afford another fire,” Berlant said.
According to Cal Fire, the months of September and October are typically when they see the largest most damaging fires. So, they’re on high alert this hot holiday weekend.
“With the record-breaking fires that we’ve already had in the month of August, we’re hoping that that is not a sign of what is to come,” Berlant said. “But we are bracing and we are preparing regardless.”
Firefighters were stressing that people need to follow all safety precautions whether out on the water or if they’re going to be out in the heat.
But they also wanted to remind people that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, so everyone needs to be following social distancing and mask rules too.