News release: DNR encourages safety first this July Fourth holiday weekend

June 30, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to keep safety in mind while enjoying the Fourth of July weekend with family and friends.

Here are some safety tips from the DNR:

Wildfire risks

  • Dry conditions continue across the state, despite the rain this past week. Fire danger can change quickly especially with the kind of warm and dry conditions forecasted over this weekend. People cause more than 98% of all wildfires in Minnesota by debris burning, fireworks, campfires, and other activities. Being cautious and keeping safety top of mind are critical to preventing human-caused wildfires.
  • With those dry conditions present, burning restrictions remain in place for Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties in northeast Minnesota. In these counties:
    • no fireworks may be ignited on public or private land outside city limits (municipal residents should check with their city to learn what restrictions may apply within city limits);
    • no campfires are allowed for remote, dispersed, backcountry, or backpacking camping (camp stoves are allowed);
    • campfires are allowed only in an established fire ring associated with a home, cabin, permanent campground, or resort; and
    • burning permits will not be issued or activated.
  • For more information, check the burning restrictions and fire danger on the DNR website.
  • Regardless of location, for people having a campfire, keep it small (3 feet by 3 feet or smaller) and in an established fire ring. Never leave it unattended and drown-stir-repeat until it’s out cold before leaving it.
  • There are many fun outdoor activities that don’t include a flame. Celebrate with family and friends without the wildfire danger and leave the bright spots in our beautiful skies to the stars, northern lights, and fireflies this year.
  • The DNR continues to monitor conditions regularly and will adjust county-specific burning restrictions as necessary.

Boat and water safety

  • Don’t just bring it – wear the life jacket! Nearly 90% of boating-related drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket – it’s the one action most likely to help people survive an unexpected fall into the water.
  • Don’t drink and boat. More than half of Minnesota’s boating fatalities involve alcohol. Drunk boating is drunk driving, and boating while intoxicated is illegal. Operating a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is against Minnesota law and carries the same penalties as drunk driving.
  • In addition to life jackets, safety equipment for motorboats includes: an engine cut-off switch, a horn or whistle, a fire extinguisher and navigation lights. These may be required depending on the size and type of boat, but their use on all motorboats is recommended by the DNR. Details can be found in the 2023 Minnesota Boating Guide or on the boating safety webpage of the DNR website.

Off highway vehicles

  • Protective gear is a must while operating off-highway vehicles. Wear goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves and DOT-compliant helmets.
  • If an OHV comes with factory-installed with seatbelts, wear them.
  • Do not drink and ride. Penalties associated with riding while intoxicated are severe.
  • Ride only on designated trails, at a safe speed, and on the right side of the trail.
  • Avoid riding on paved roads except to cross safely and when permitted by law.
  • Carry no more than one passenger on an OHV specifically designed for two people, and never carry a passenger on a single-rider machine.
  • Ride an OHV that’s the right size.
  • Actively supervise younger riders. OHVs are not toys.
  • Make sure OHVs have a spark arrestor and try to park on pavement or gravel when possible to avoid igniting a wildfire.

State parks and recreation areas

  • Minnesota rules prohibit the use of fireworks in state parks and recreation areas.
  • Check visitor alerts before leaving home. State park and recreation area pages on the DNR website post visitor alerts to communicate important information related to safety, closures, construction projects and other helpful details. Find visitor alerts on park webpages.
  • Don’t get lost, navigate with a smartphone. The Avenza Maps app uses GPS location tracking so visitors can stay found, even off the grid. After you download the app and a GeoPDF map, no internet or cell service is needed. DNR maps can be downloaded for free. Get details on the DNR’s GeoPDF webpage.
  • Watch the weather. Stay in the know by enabling severe weather notifications on your smartphone. Because cell service is not available in all locations within state parks and recreation areas, visitors may want to bring a weather radio to get information about severe weather warnings, watches and advisories.
  • Be BearWise. See the DNR’s bear safety webpage for tips on avoiding an unwanted bear encounter.

Back to top