The 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, serves to remind us that we cannot afford to lose focus on safety, either on or off duty. The summer season is a dangerous time of year for the Army, with notable increases in off-duty accidental fatalities.
The 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign provides awareness of potential hazards, and empowers Soldiers, Families and Army civilians with timely information to ensure everyone’s well-being during this especially high-risk season.
To achieve this mission, the Army Substance Abuse Prevention Program has incorporated the Summer Safety online training for all Soldiers and civilians in Fort Huachuca. The ASAP staff has also set information tables around the garrison to promote safety awareness. The online training is available at https://www.ikn.army.mil.
When planning summer activities, alcohol does not have to be the focus of the event. Remember the effects of alcohol and identify the risks associated with impairment while participating in various events and activities. This summer, don’t let your celebrations end in an arrest or tragedy.
Alcohol and its health effects
One main danger of drinking during the hot summer weather is the risk of heat injuries from dehydration. Alcohol lowers the body’s tolerance for heat and acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to lose more fluid through urine, resulting in dehydration. If fluids in the body are not replaced with water, you could suffer a heat-related illness, including heat stroke.
A dehydrated person is likely to feel the effects of alcohol more quickly and severely than someone who is properly hydrated. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include: dry lips and tongue, headache, weakness, dizziness or extreme fatigue, darker-than-normal urine, nausea and muscle cramps.
Alcohol consumption can also affect the central nervous system, which can cause a person to lose inhibitions resulting in poor judgment and recklessness. Impaired judgment prevents a person from making smart choices about when to get out of the heat and when to replace alcoholic beverages with water.
In the summer, people are often involved in outdoor activities which are not safe when drinking. These include boating, camping, hiking and swimming.
Alcohol can alter a person’s breathing and swallowing reflexes, which are needed for safe swimming. It also slows down reflexes and alters balance and coordination, so falls and car, motorcycle, boating and drowning accidents occur more frequently.
Consider these facts:
For every 18-degree increase in air temperature (above room temperature), the body’s absorption rate for alcohol doubles.
Drinking alcohol in the summer heat can also cause a number of health problems such as hypoglycemia, heart rhythm irregularities and weight gain. Dehydration can also increase the risk of having a stroke, especially for those with high blood pressure.
Healthy fun-in-the-sun tips
Think before you drink. If you are going to be driving, do not drink or appoint a non-drinking person as a designated driver.
Eat food with alcohol because it helps to slow alcohol’s effects. It is important to note that sugary drinks such as soda and juice combined with alcohol can produce a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) effect greater than that caused by alcohol alone.
Drink water. Experts suggest drinking two to three quarts of clean, distilled water every day to stay healthy and keep the body functioning properly. More water is necessary in the summer heat. If you choose to drink alcohol, mix it up; have one alcoholic drink, then one large glass of water. You can also dilute your drinks by adding soda water to your alcoholic beverage.
For a safe summer, always remember to make responsible decisions while enjoying summer activities.