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Summer safety’ smarts

ORV photo shoot near Baldwin, Michigan in the Manistee National Forest

Ride Right’ for safe, responsible, off-road fun

Three ORVs drive safely on the right side of a dirt forest trail.Off-road vehicles are fun year-round, but ORV activity ramps up in spring and summer as people head to Michigan trails and ORV scramble areas to enjoy world-class riding experiences.  Keeping safety in mind is vital on any ride, for you and others. According to 2023 statewide ORV crash data, 93% of ORV fatalities could have been prevented. These crashes were primarily due to excessive speed and a lack of helmet/seat belt use.“Always ride within your and the machine’s capabilities,” said Cpl. Mike Hearn, DNR law enforcement ORV and snowmobile specialist. “When operators ride too fast, they are more likely to lose control when they hit even the smallest bump, try to make turns or stop. Riding sober and at a safe speed are the best ways to stay safe.” All ORV operators are urged to “Ride Right” and keep this important guidance in mind: Operate within the limits of your ORV and your own capabilities. Ride at a safe speed. Ride sober. Ride on the right side of the trail. Keep lights on when riding. Always wear a helmet. Do your part to ensure everyone returns home safely; read more about ORV safety at For more on where to ride and ORV laws in Michigan, visit
JW Wells State Park, Summer 2023 Photos taken by Tyler Leipprandt in cooperation with the MI DNR. Credit goes to Tyler Leiprandt and Michigan Sky Media LLC.

Before you strike that match, take steps to keep your fire contained

An adult cooks a meal over a fire ring in a state park while two other companions watch in lawn chairs.Summer is the season of grills, campfires, sparklers and fireworks, and with hotter, dryer weather comes fire season. To protect people, wildlife and landscapes, it’s important to follow fire safety tips and be prepared in case your fire does something unpredictable. Here are some basic safety guidelines:  When making a campfire, build it in a ring or pit. Never leave a fire unattended, even for a moment. When you’re done, douse your fire thoroughly with water, stir and douse again.When using fireworks, keep a hose handy and make sure to soak used sparklers in water before discarding them. Never shoot fireworks into dry grass, brush or trees. When barbecuing, never leave the grill unattended and keep a water source nearby.If you are planning work, not play, for your holiday weekend, make sure your yard cleanup is safe. When towing trailers or equipment, ensure tow chains don’t drag and cause sparks, and avoid using heavy machinery like lawnmowers in dry areas. Always keep a water source handy.Debris burning is the top cause of wildfires in Michigan. Check whether burn permits are being issued or if weather conditions allow for safe burning before you burn. Check the burn permit page or call 866-922-BURN (866-922-2876) for more information.
Use firewise landscaping tips at home, too, to maintain a safe space around your house. Trim low branches, remove dead vegetation and keep firewood piles a safe distance away.Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people. If you see a fire grow out of control, call 911 immediately. Swift action can save lives.
DSC_0987 Smoke and flames rise from the underbrush during a May 8, 2018 prescribed burn at Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County.

ICYMI: Tips to stay healthy during poor air quality days

Smoke clouds the air in a dry prairie.The 2024 North American wildfire season is underway and warmer weather is increasing the risk of higher ozone levels.In case you missed it, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is suggesting Michigan residents take steps to protect themselves from risks related to poor air quality.Monitor the air quality index on the AirNow website, or sign up for alerts through the EnviroFlash system. Keep an eye on the news and weather and be prepared in case of smoke.Before a wildfire smoke event, MDHHS recommends you: Familiarize yourself with your forced air HVAC system or your window air conditioning unit. If it has a fresh-air intake or outdoor air damper, you will need to close it during a smoke event.  Ensure you have replacement air filters that are rated MERV-13 or higher. Consider purchasing a portable air cleaner. If you don’t have one, you can make a do-it-yourself air filter.  Help neighbors and family members plan for possible wildfire smoke. If you have asthma or other respiratory illnesses, heart disease, diabetes or another health condition that may make you more sensitive to wildfire smoke, talk to your health care provider ahead for guidance. Children under 18, anyone over the age of 60, pregnant people and outdoor workers are also more at risk. Talk to your health care provider ahead of time to make a plan. Find more information on the MDHHS Your Health and Wildfire Smoke page.
busy day at Muskegon State park beach

Brush up on Great Lakes beach safety tips

A crowd of beachgoers sprawls across a shoreline, mingling in the water and on the sand.Summer temperatures are here, and the water is calling! Many state parks, but not all, offer swim areas identified by buoys or markers, a beach flag warning system and water depth less than 5 feet at the time of installation. Before you jump in, make sure to keep safety in mind, especially on big water. Remember the Great Lakes are large, powerful water systems that hold more than 20% of the world’s fresh water. Strong currents can catch even the most experienced swimmer off guard.To keep everyone safe, follow these must-know tips: Check weather conditions and beach flags in buoyed swim areas (double-red flags = water access closed, red flag = high hazard, yellow flag = medium hazard, green flag = low hazard). By law, you cannot enter the water from the beach when double-red flags are flying or if otherwise directed.  Choose buoyed swim areas located in state parks. Swim areas offer additional safety measures and visual cautions. It’s important to note that not all state parks have designated swim areas.  Never swim alone, especially children. Keep close watch on children and weaker swimmers: Stay within arm’s reach, have them wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, be conscious of their limits and take breaks frequently. Be aware of water temperatures. Water can be much colder than the ambient air temperature might suggest, especially in larger bodies of water like the Great Lakes. Sudden immersion and/or sustained time in cold water can cause cold shock, making it hard to breathe and increasing your risk of drowning.Learn more about these beach safety tips, including information about the benefits of buoyed swim areas, the beach flag warning system, how to spot (and escape) Great Lakes currents and more at

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