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How to keep 101 critical summer days safe

Posted 6/13/2012   Updated 6/13/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Summertime isn't just popsicles, sprinklers and air conditioning -- it comes with some very real dangers. The summer heat lures people to beaches, pools and boats; draws them to bikes, scooters and roller blades; and moves them to cars, trucks and motorcycles. Not to mention the increase in extreme sports and barbeques. While each activity has the potential for danger (yes, even the popsicles), they can all be enjoyable as long as safety is kept in mind.

Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, 81st Training Wing command chief, said, "The summer months are notorious for an increase in safety incidents. Good weather and increased daylight hours allow for more time enjoying activities outside, which increases our risk for mishaps."

The first step to summer safety is to always be aware of your surroundings and the risks associated with any summertime activity.

Being out in the sun alone carries its own risks including burns, heat cramps, heat exhaustion heat stroke and water intoxication. These risks are increased when someone is not acclimated to the heat; are exposed for several days in a row; lack sleep; aren't physically fit; are overweight, sick or on medication; have used alcohol within 24 hours or are over the age of 40. In a technical training environment like Keesler where people come from all around the country and different walks of life, these factors can be common.

It may not always be possible to get out of the sun because of work requirements, but people should always wear sunscreen, find shade if possible, and drink an adequate amount of fluid.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Northcutt, 81st Training Wing safety office said, "I can't stress hydration enough, but you have to watch over hydration too."

In the water, never leave children unattended, watch for strong currents, don't drink to excess and don't attempt to swim beyond your ability.

On base, sports safety isn't just a suggestion, there are hard rules for those running, biking or riding a scooter on base.

According to AFI 91-207, The U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program, "All persons who ride a bicycle, tricycle, or other human powered vehicle, including motorized bicycles, on an AF installation in a traffic environment shall wear a properly fastened and approved bicycle helmet."

"Wearing a helmet is the equivalent of wearing a seatbelt, it saves lives because the most at risk part of your body is your head," Northcutt said.

AFI 91-207 also states, "Wearing portable headphones, earphones, cellular phones, iPods, or other listening and entertainment devices (other than hearing aids) while walking, jogging, running, bicycling, skating or skateboarding on roadways is prohibited. Use of listening devices impairs recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, approaching vehicles, human speech, and outside noise in general."

When operating a motor vehicle, watch for pedestrians and motorcyclists, heed the rules of the road, wear a seatbelt and never drink and drive.

"Safety impacts all aspects of our mission. Whether it involves our active duty, civilian or contractor personnel or their family members, focus is taken off of the mission to address an injury or worse," Johnson said.

As the safety office motto goes, "Mission first, safety always."

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