Commentary

May 18, 2012

Memorial Day Safety

By Rod George
99th Air Base Wing Safety

The 2012 Memorial Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m., Friday, May 25, and ends at 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 28, which means millions of travelers are about to hit the road, traveling to see family and friends for the long weekend.  For the past six years, the Memorial Day holiday weekend has averaged 11.5 percent more traffic fatalities than similar non-holiday periods.  The National Safety Council estimates approximately 420 traffic fatalities and another 42,000 medical consulted injuries over the traditional summer kick-off weekend from motor vehicle collisions.  Studies have shown that seatbelts, when used, have a 45 percent effective rate in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants.  Based on this information it is estimated that 149 person’s lives may be saved this Memorial Day holiday period and an additional 107 lives could be saved if all wore safety belts.

Although we are already experiencing summer-like temperatures here in the Las Vegas Valley, Memorial Day signals the beginning of the summer season for many.  It is a dangerous time on the roadways and most importantly drivers must be aware of the risks and pay special attention to safety during this weekend.  Despite rising fuel costs, airfares and hotel prices, Las Vegas is the number one travel destination according to some travel experts.  It is important to remember Las Vegas is a 24-hour tourist destination and the number of drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol will increase during the holiday weekend. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority projects over 300,000 tourists will visit the city Memorial Day weekend.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is now out in full force and the objective is to crack-down on unsafe drivers due to the rising number of traffic fatalities throughout the Valley.  According to LVMPD, there have been 66 fatalities on county roads so far this year.  That’s more than a 70 percent increase during the same period last year.  Another alarming statistic, 16 pedestrians have been killed on county roadways so far this year — a 220 percent increase during the same period last year.  The most common traffic violations are speeding, using cell phones and running red lights!

The following tips will help make traveling during the Memorial Day holiday safer for you and your family:

Have a qualified mechanic check all the car’s vitals — brakes, battery, fluid levels, tire pressure, light bulbs and any parts that need regular maintenance.

Allow plenty of time for the drive — the roads are busiest on the days right before and after the major holidays. If possible, take an extra day off to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed.

Never drink and drive — designate a “non-drinking” driver. Even moderate consumption of alcohol impairs reaction time and driving judgment.

Wear your seatbelt — ensure all passengers are buckled up and children under the age of six or weigh less than 60 pounds are in an approved safety restraint.  Children 12 and under should always be in the back seat.

Cell phones and texting — refrain from cell phone use behind the wheel.  Texting, accessing the internet and hand-held cell phone use while driving are illegal throughout the state.  Exceptions to this law would include use of a hands-free headset or device.

Additionally, boating and water sports are also popular activities during this time of the year.  Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death to individuals between the ages of 5 – 24. Here are a few boating and swimming tips to keep you and your family safe when participating in water activities:

Check the forecast — always check local weather conditions prior to departure. Television and radio broadcasts are a good source of information.

Wear a Life Jacket — ensure each member of your onboard team is fitted with a lifejacket prior to departure.

Avoid Alcohol –  Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later.  Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol.

Enroll your children in swimming lessons — make sure they learn from a trained professional how to swim.

Never leave a child unattended — accidents happen, but leaving a child unattended, even one that is a good swimmer, is an accident waiting to happen.

Take a CPR class — chances are you will not need to use this, but it is an essential method that parents should know.

Memorial Day is a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, so exercise good risk management and think safety first!

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the DOD’s Critical Days of Summer Campaign. As a result, the 99th Air Base Wing will host “Nellis Awareness Day and Caring for People Forum” for all Wings and organizations on base May 24 from 9 a.m. 3 p.m.  The day will consist of events that will highlight the topics of safety and caring for one another. All military and civilians who work on base should attend at least one event.

Nellis Awareness Day will consist of briefings and outdoor events held throughout the day geared towards smart risk management, Wingman concept, suicide prevention, health and wellness, sexual assault prevention, and resiliency. Training will take place in a variety of locations, including individual units, the base theater and at Freedom Park. Three segments of the base population will be targeted: 26 and under, first line supervisors (E-5-E-8), and senior staff (E-8 and above). More detailed information about the training will be sent through base e-mail. For more information about Nellis Awareness Day, call Mr. Anthony Wilson, 99th Air Base Wing Safety Office, 652-6018.

The Caring for People Forum, also held on May 24 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., will give all active duty, dependents and civilians a chance to voice their opinions in various topic areas.  Those areas include housing support; single Airmen support; health & wellness; spouse communication; special needs family member support; resiliency pillar; deployment support; Wounded Warrior support; and Guard & Reserve Support. Information gathered at the forums that day will be compiled and presented to the 99th Air Base Wing commander and Air Combat Command. The forums will be held at base chapel classrooms and at the Airmen & Family Readiness Center. More detailed information about the forum will be sent through base e-mail. For more information about the Caring for People Forum, call Jennifer Beaudoin, Family Advocacy Outreach Manager, 653-3880.




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