COLUMBUS — As Ohioans prepare to enjoy the upcoming three-day Labor Day weekend, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) wants to remind hikers, boaters, paddlers and all outdoor enthusiasts to be safe while enjoying Ohio’s outdoor spaces.
On the water:
• Wear a life jacket. ODNR advises Ohioans and visitors to properly wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while boating and when wading and fishing in rivers, lakes or streams.
• Boat sober. In Ohio, boaters whose blood alcohol content level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and may face other serious penalties, including fines, jail and loss of privileges to register and operate boats.
• File a float plan. Boaters should let people know where they are going and when they expect to return. A sample float plan boaters can use is available at bit.ly/FileFloatPlan.
• Don’t swim alone. When swimming in one of Lake Erie’s designated swim areas or in one of Ohio’s inland lakes, swim with a buddy.
• Don’t swim out to help someone in the water without having a flotation device. If someone needs help, throw anything that floats to them such as a life jacket/ring, cooler or inflated beach toy. Seek help from others and call 911.
On the path:
• Stay on the trail when hiking. It is crucial to not go off the trail while hiking to ensure that people and native species stay safe. Learn which state parks offer hiking trails at parks.ohiodnr.gov/hiking.
• Bring water and a high-energy snack. Temperatures are expected to climb during Labor Day weekend so make sure to have plenty of water to stay hydrated while hiking. A good snack will help keep hikers energized, especially during longer hikes.
• Dress in layers. Wearing different layers will allow hikers to be comfortable as the temperature fluctuates throughout the day.
• Wear sturdy shoes. Hikers should wear shoes which are appropriate and comfortable for long hikes, as well as protect their feet.
• When hiking alone, check in with others about leaving and returning. Cellphones may not have good reception on the trails so hikers should tell others where they will be hiking and when they expect to return.
• Plan ahead. Shorter hikes may be ideal opportunities to see different birds or animals so bring a camera, a pair of binoculars and field guides.
Be aware. No matter the outdoor activity you may choose, it’s important for people to be aware of their surroundings and any potential safety issues they may create.
For more information, visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.