Have a fun holiday, but keep it safe
For most islanders and visitors to our community, this will be a fun weekend devoted to picnics, boating, beach activities and fireworks displays. For public safety officials, it will entail being proactive to help prevent a tragedy that would cloud the weekend.
The celebration includes a community fireworks display sponsored by local businesses, MICA, the Marriott and the city of Marco Island on the evening of July Fourth off the shoreline near private Residents' Beach.
"This weekend we will have beefed up assets on the water to ensure everyone has a safe and fun holiday," said Sgt. Nick Ojanovac, who supervises the patrol and investigative services for the Marco Island Police Department.
One area of concern lies in the illegal use of fireworks. This entire issue is confusing to the public; it is legal to sell the devices, but illegal to set them off.
"We've put up the electronic message boards warning folks that it is a violation and year after year we advise people that using those devices is illegal," said Sergeant Ojanovac.
Deputy Chief Chris Byrne of the Marco Fire-Rescue Department also supported his counterpart in the police department.
"We urge our residents and visitors to adhere to the rules and refrain from setting off illegal fireworks. The resulting injuries can be catastrophic and life threatening," said Byrne.
In 2014 there were 10,500 reported injuries due to fireworks treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition another 10 fatalities were attributed to the use of fireworks. About 65 perent of all those injuries occurred between June 20 and July 20 of 2014.
(See Quinton Roux's article page A2 about the community fireworks.)
Over the last several years special attention has been paid to the area surrounding the Eagle Sanctuary on Tigertail Court. Linda Turner of the Marco Eagle Foundation urged residents in and around the sanctuary to adhere to the law.
"We would hope that all our residents and guests would adhere to the regulations concerning the fireworks issue. A peaceful environment for these majestic symbols of our nation is a must if they are to continue to call Marco Island their home and nest here with their eaglets and chicks," said Turner.
For boaters around the island the key word is safety, said Deputy Chief Chris Byrne.
"We want to make sure everyone has their personal floatation devices onboard for all the persons on their boats, in addition to all their safety devices such as flares, whistles and up to date extinguishers," said Byrne.
Police Chief Al Schettino concurred with Byrne, urging boaters and those on personal watercraft to abide by all the regulations regarding their uses.
"We want everyone that goes out on their boat to come home safely. That's our goal throughout the year and especially this weekend."
Marco PD will be deploying additional resources out on the water this weekend, in addition to Collier County and the Florida Wildlife Commission.
"The number one concern we have is with the impaired operation of a vessel," said Ojanovac. "We'll also be looking for violations in the Manatee Zones, overloaded vessels, reckless operation, wake zone issues and unregistered crafts."
No glass on beach
Beach goers are not allowed to bring glass onto the beaches throughout Collier County.
"This is just a common sense safety issue," said Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy. "There are alternative containers for all types of beverages and the injuries from glass can be quite traumatic to a child or an adult."
"Our community service officers will be out patrolling the beach and will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks and glass containers to ensure the public has a safe environment to enjoy the holiday," said Schettino.
Islanders and visitors are also reminded to place valuables out of sight in their vehicles and secure their doors and windows when parking those vehicles.
"All too many of these thefts can be avoided if the owners of those vehicles would take the time to properly secure their items out of sight and then secure the vehicle and take the keys with them," said Capt. Dave Baer of the Marco Police Department.
"We are an extremely safe community, however we always have to be proactive in preventing the potential for a crime," said Baer.