Labor Day ends critical days of summer, risk remains

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Monday is the end of the Air Force's Critical Days of Summer campaign, but dangers still lurk in summertime's travel and recreational activities.

The campaign began Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day. Common recreational activities during this holiday include cookouts, swimming, camping, long road trips and alcohol consumption that can be hazardous if appropriate precautions aren't taken.

"This is one of the most dangerous weekends of the year, so don't let your guard down now," said Virgil Mitchell, the 81st Training Wing's ground safety manager. "Be safe this Labor Day, for your family's sake and yours."

Mitchell's advice for a safe holiday weekend includes four categories - driving, water safety, drinking and driving and heat precautions.

According to Mitchell, the main causes of injuries and death in vehicle mishaps are speeding, fatigue, alcohol, not wearing seatbelts and not wearing motorcycle helmets. Speeding and fatigue are common when quick weekend trips are part of the plan.

"American Automobile Association estimates that 34.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the upcoming Labor Day weekend," said Tech. Sgt. Judy Mehaffy, 81st TRW ground safety. "This is a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million people who traveled last year."

Mehaffy stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt; keeping a safe distance from other vehicles; obeying all traffic signals and speed limits; and remaining aware of emergency vehicles.

When it comes to cold alcoholic drinks on hot summer days, be sure not to get behind the wheel.

"Establish a designated driver before you start drinking - don't pick the person who seems the most sober to drive," Mitchell advised. "If you've had too much to drink and need a ride, call a cab, friend or supervisor - don't drive."
Water sports abound on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and injuries or drowning can happen to anyone.

"Don't drink alcohol and operate a boat or personal watercraft," Mitchell warned. "Wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device and inspect your boat or watercraft before operation. Be sure to use a spotter if towing a skier or tuber, and don't dive into unfamiliar water. Watch children closely, and don't leave them unattended around water at any time."

South Mississippi's oppressive heat and humidity can trigger a variety of medical emergencies.

"Even healthy people should take it easy during extremely high temperatures and humidity," Mitchell pointed out. "Those with respiratory issues and other health problems must be especially careful."

Mitchell encourages people to stay out of the sun as much as possible and drink extra fluids, but to avoid alcoholic beverages that can cause dehydration.

"There are a number of ways to prevent sun stress emergencies," he noted. "Drink before you're thirsty and drink plenty of fluids. Eat a healthy diet, wear a hat or cap, keep your neck covered and wear loose-fitting clothing. If possible, work in the cool hours of the morning or evening."

Labor Day is dedicated to the strength, contributions and achievements of the American worker and should be celebrated safely.

"Incorporate your risk management skills at work, play, home, and on the road," said Mehaffy. "Drive safe and don't become a statistic."