How to navigate Fourth of July weekend outside

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — More people are choosing to stay closer to home this Fourth of July weekend, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Here in Chattanooga, that means more people out on the water and on the trails. With annual events cancelled and entertainment limited, thousands are opting outside.

Upper 90 degree heat isn’t deterring hikers from enjoying the multitude of trails in the Chattanooga area this weekend. Parking lots are filling up fast with locals and visitors alike.

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Hamilton County has already received several 911 calls this year for lost or injured hikers.

“It’s always good to make sure that you know the terrain that you’re going to be hiking on, and everybody should know where you’re going to be, like a family member, please letting others know where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be coming out, or more importantly, bring someone with you,” said Amy Maxwell of Hamilton County Emergency Management.

Many trails in the area — like Little River Canyon — lead to popular swimming holes. With many pools still closed, these spots continue to be packed with crowds seeking relief from the summer heat.

However, make sure you keep a few key things in mind before jumping in.

“Don’t swim alone. Come out with friends. Come out with family. Make sure you’re watching out for each other,” Little River Canyon park ranger Matt Switzer said. “There aren’t lifeguards here. Safety is the visitors responsibility.”

Likewise, you can expect local lakes to be busy. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be patrolling the waters. Remember, don’t drink and drive — your car or your boat.

Also, keep a safe social distance and wear a mask even when outside.

“If you’re going to be out in public places, especially people who you’re not familiar with or don’t know, that’s when I would be wearing a mask at all times,” Maxwell said. “Even outdoors, if you’re going be around a bunch of people.”

“Know your abilities and go home safe and healthy with good memories instead of tragedy or an injury,” Switzer said.

Stay weather aware while you’re out on the trail or water this weekend by downloading the Storm Team 12 Weather App.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."