Critical days of summer upon us

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — With the beginning of the Critical Days of Summer, we are reminded to make safe decisions this summer.

“The Air Force has been focused on additional mishap vulnerabilities during the summer months since 1964,” said Col. James Fisher, Air and Education Training Command director of safety. “We recognize the summer months put our Airmen at risk more frequently than any other time of year. There were a total of five fatal mishaps during the summer period over the last three years with four of these associated with either vehicle or motorcycle accidents Air Force wide.”

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the Critical Days of Summer which ends on Labor Day. During the spring and summer months, Airmen tend to become more active with a wide range of entertainment options to engage in.

“During the summer months there are more outside activities that involve our Airmen,” said Ben Bruce, 56th Fighter Wing Safety Office ground safety manger. “We see an increase in accidents from recreational activities such as boating, hiking, swimming and heat-related problems. There is also a high risk for vehicle mishaps as people go more places, and as always the use of alcohol is a concern.”

Swimming tends to top the list in Arizona due to extreme heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death of children ages 1 through 4 with an annual average of 390 fatalities occurring within that age group.

Drowning can occur within all age groups and at any location with a body of water.

“Always know who you are with,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Mavrakis II, 56th FW Safety Office ground safety NCO-in-charge. “Ask the questions, ‘Can you swim? Have you or the people you are with had too much to drink?’ If so, stop them from swimming. Always keep an eye on children, especially infants, while around water.”

During the summer months, many families hit the road and drive to a vacation spot. It is important to have regularly scheduled maintenance done and properly care for your car. Check tire pressure, fluid levels and always keep a spare tire just in case of a sudden flat. Store water and properly packaged food in your car along with an emergency road kit. Also be mindful of other drivers. You may be doing the right thing, but another driver may become distracted.

A big travel concern among motorist is texting. Texting has become one of the top causes for people driving to and from work or on long road trips. The CDC states that more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Texting while driving is also linked with drinking and driving or riding with someone who has been drinking.

“Never drink and drive,” Mavrakis said. “Not only are you putting yourself in danger, you’re putting everyone else on the road in danger, and we all have families that we want to go home to, the same with texting and driving. The message can wait until you have safely parked your car.”

Safety is not just a critical days of summer issue. It should be considered anytime and everywhere we go. Enjoy the summer.

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