It's been a super long and trying 12 months, but you don't need us to tell you that. The pandemic has kept Americans cooped up unable to get out and really enjoy friends, family and group activities. With the lifting of mandates around the country and here and Maine, all of that is about to change. And, we can expect the most movement and travel we've seen since March of 2020.

As the 'unofficial kickoff' to summer happens this weekend, there are several safety tips that you should keep in the back of your mind as you're going about your long-weekend. Not only are these tips helpful for the upcoming holiday, but they're things that you should really be keeping in mind all summer long.

The first one really goes without saying, but please make sure you never drink and drive. It's very tempting while you're out enjoying time with friends to hangout and enjoy a couple adult beverages, and you may even be tempted to then drive yourself back home. One thing that's always important to remember is that buzzed driving is in fact drunk driving. Always designate a sober driver, sleep over at your friend's house, or just call an Uber!

Get a burn permit and make sure conditions are safe. Another tip that pretty much goes without saying but is critically important. Not all circumstances require a burn permit depending on the location and size of your fire, so make sure you check with your local fire marshal or town office. And, if in fact you are required to get a permit, make sure you do! Always keep a water supply whether it be a hose or 5-gallon buckets next to your fire. And lastly, always make sure your fire is thoroughly extinguished before you call it a night.

This next one actually also has to do with fire. Earlier this week we received a photo that had been shared by the Lewiston Fire Department. They responded to (and luckily saved) a house that had begun to catch fire from the outside because someone was grilling. How do you catch your house on fire with your grill? Well, when you're grilling so close to your house that when you open the lid of the grill the heat begins to melt your siding, you're too close. Even though it seems like a no-brainer, make sure you're grilling away from anything flammable... like your house.

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.


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