101 Critical Days of Summer creeping up

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Nancy Staats
  • 460th Space Wing Safety Officer
The 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign starts May 22 with the first holiday weekend of the summer, Memorial Day. As most of you know, the summer months from Memorial Day through Labor Day present higher than normal risks for off-duty mishaps. It's also a time when we experience fatalities at a much higher rate than other times of the year.

This campaign, which runs until Labor Day, helps raise awareness about the possible mishaps that can happen to off-duty service members during the summer months.

The summer months bring us great joy as we plan summer activities, vacations and trips. Unfortunately, there is nothing more devastating or tragic than having a family member, friend or coworker fall victim to a deadly accident.

Last year the Air Force lost 17 valuable members during this period. Many of them would be alive today if not for a poor decision that was acted upon. Most of these tragic events, if not all of them, were clearly preventable in some way. Preventable mishaps are those mishaps where someone made a conscious decision to operate a vehicle while knowing they've had too much to drink.

The Air Force has had its successes and failures over the years during the 101 Critical Days of Summer. Many of the successes occurred when an effective plan was in place and goals were established. Goals in mishap prevention are important in that they give us something to reach for. Our goal in 2009 is zero preventable mishaps.

Practicing good risk management, making sound decisions, and being an active wingman, on and off the job, are methods we can use to reduce the inherent risks during these 101 days.

Everyone should know who the number one safety person in their life is. The answer should be "You." If it isn't, then maybe you should take a look at your priorities. Safety must begin and end with you. You are in a position to correct your behaviors and make sound decisions at all times, regardless of whether a wingman is with you or not.

All of us can enjoy a successful 101 Critical Days of Summer by taking the proper precautions and taking an active role. Our chances are significantly improved if we take care of one another by being effective wingmen. Watch out for your friends, family and coworkers by reminding them to wear protective equipment, slow down, be vigilant for signs of heat exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, and to just be safe in general.

If everyone makes good decisions and makes safety a way of life, we will survive this potentially deadly time of year unscathed. With a little luck and some effort on your part, we can succeed, and more importantly stay alive, and be able to celebrate another year with our family, friends and coworkers.

Know your limitations, get trained on high risk activities and practice risk management -- also known as common sense. Your unit safety representative has all the information you need to have a safe and successful summer.

Having fun is very important but all personnel should have a safety plan before they go out, and stick to it. We know you play to live; we just want you to live to play.