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Float Down safety is everybody’s business

Life is not without risks. It’s why we buy insurance and buckle our seat belts.

It’s why, for the first time ever, the Mackinac Bridge will be completely closed to vehicle traffic for this year’s Labor Day Bridge Walk. In past years, car and truck traffic was shifted onto the southbound lanes while walks used the other half of the bridge.

This year, following the advice from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the bridge authority will bar regular traffic from the bridge from 6:30 a.m. to noon. Simply put, too many cars and trucks have plowed into crowds of pedestrians in recent years.

But police and the Mackinac Bridge Authority are not the only people responsible for keeping the thousands of walkers safe on Labor Day. The participants themselves have responsibilities as well. Walker are advised to wear closed-toe shoes, apply sunscreen and avoid horseplay on the bridge — and to make sure they are physically capable of a five-mile walk.

Likewise, numerous authorities are working together to mitigate and minimize the risks of participating in the Port Huron Float Down on Sunday afternoon. Also for the first time, marine and law enforcement officials from both sides of the St. Clair River are coordinating their efforts to get everyone to the end of the float and out of the river safely.

It’s a smart move and one that all of us appreciate.

Like bridge walkers, though, Float Down participants also have a role in keeping themselves safe while enjoying Sunday’s event. There could be a record turnout this year following the worldwide attention that last year’s escape to Canada received. There will not be rescuers to mind every single Float Down participant.

Participant safety begins with being aware of your physical capabilities. It is longer, farther and more difficult than it looks. It is not safe for children.

Wear a personal floatation device and bring a suitable paddle to keep your float on course. You’re going to be out in the sun for several hours, which means you’ll need sunscreen, clothing to protect your skin and probably water and food. Avoid alcohol.

Carry identification, preferably sealed inside a waterproof bag, in case you need to explain yourself to Canadian customs. Obey the law and respect private property.

Have fun.

Source of article click here : The Times Herald

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