As the days get hotter and longer, hazards and risks increase across the Army and injury-related statistics often rise.
Running from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Army’s 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign is intended to remind us that we can’t afford to lose focus on safety while either on- or off-duty.
Family barbecues, swimming, hiking, camping, motorcycle riding and boating are just some of the activities people like to engage in during the summer.
“Motorcycle riding continues to gain popularity with our Soldiers and Civilians,” said Dan Orta, Fort Huachuca Safety Office director. “Some of the [motorcycle, all terrain vehicle and watercraft] issues that are common Army-wide … are mainly due to undisciplined or untrained operators.”
But the problem isn’t just on the road. Even in Arizona’s arid environment, water-related injuries increase during the summer.
“Watercraft injuries are due mainly to inexperience with equipment or mixing alcohol with water operations,” Orta said.
“[Accidents also happen as the result of] swimming in areas where there is no lifeguard on duty as well as swimming in non-designated areas. Accidents happen to people who can’t swim and who are not wearing flotation devices.”
The intense heat ranges in Arizona account for a large amount of summer injuries. Orta explained that the sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. but it is still harmful outside of that time span. He suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes, head and neck, and lightweight clothing that covers the arms, legs and torso when spending long amounts of time in the sun.
“Heat injuries can also be caused due to cumulative days, two to three days, of being exposed to high temperatures,” Orta added. “One way to avoid this is by ensuring you get plenty of rest the day before training or working outdoors and by trying not to work outdoors continuously.”
During any outdoor activity, drink lots of water. Monitor and enforce frequent hydration, according to the “Fluid Replacement and Work/Rest Guide” found at http://phc.amedd.army.mil. Hydrate frequently, however, do not exceed 1.5 quarts per hour.
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages, especially when performing intense activity. These liquids make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat injuries. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
The summer also brings an increase in wildlife, snakes, scorpions and stinging insects, which should always be avoided.
“If anyone comes across wildlife [such as bear or cubs], my advice to them would be to turn around and walk away from the animals and do not try to pick up any young wildlife because the mother is always close by,” Orta said. “If hiking in the mountains, be properly outfitted and bring some defense equipment such as noisemakers to maybe scare the animal off.”
Composite Risk Management is one tool Soldiers and Civilians can use to protect themselves both on- and off-duty, according to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center. Summertime should be spent having fun with friends and Family, but most importantly, do it safely.
For more information on summer safety or programs offered on post, contact the Fort Huachuca Safety Office, 533.3697.