FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md --
Moving trucks are being loaded, the sun is warming pools and vacations are underway and the days are long; but do we have the skills to manage summer time risk?
The Air Force began to focus on safety during the summer months in 1964. That is 52 years of caring for our Airmen and their families during the 101 critical days of summer. In 2014, the Air Force changed its vision to focus on risk management, building a culture shift to ensure our Airmen and their families are safe year-round.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend, Airmen are more susceptible to engage in outdoor activities. These activities raise the risk of injury or fatalities within our force.
“When practicing and implementing good risk management skills, there are a few activities that are typically associated with the summer that require special attention,” said Master Sgt. Shawanda Peterson, 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing occupational safety manager.
Peterson mentioned that around spring many Airmen and civilians dust off their motorcycles, and hit the road. To help riders mitigate accidents, a refresher course at the local installation is highly encouraged and to keep in regulation with Air Force Instruction 91-207, riders must create and maintain an Air Force Safety Automated System/Motorcycle Unit Safety Tracking Tool module account.
“Spring and summer typically marks the beginning or motorcycle riding season. There is a requirement for commander's to ensure that all motorcycle riders receive an annual pre-season motorcycle rider briefing,” Peterson said. “The completion of this briefing must be documented in MUSTT”)”
Some may not know, but if you are injured while participating in a high risk activity and have not notified the Unit Safety Representative, an Airman can be held accountable/punished. Peterson also mentioned that parasailing, diving, white water rafting, skydiving even hiking are high risk activities; check with your USR before participating.
Peterson also mentioned that being proactive with risk management off duty is just as important as on duty.
Whether a person works in an office or the mission is outdoors, hydration is important in the summer. In general, the body loses water naturally. Just walking in the high heat could deplete water levels and over-heat anyone if not properly hydrated. A good rule of thumb is consuming two to three cups for two hours of any activity that requires being in the heat, or six to 12 ounces at an average of 15 minutes during activities.
Some tips to stay cool by the Department of Health are listed below:
• Drink plenty of water
• Stay out of the sun
• Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar
• Wear clothing that is loose-fitting, light colored and breathable, such as cotton
• Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella
• Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches
• Wear sunscreen
• Schedule outdoor activities carefully
• Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car
• Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area
• If you do not have access to a cool-temperature location, visit the District recreation center, library, or senior center closest to you
“Situational awareness and practicing risk management on- and off-duty is the key in preventing heat related injury and illness,” Peterson said. “Be prepared for your recreational or work activities that require being exposed to the heat. Stay hydrated and listen to your body. If you are feeling any symptoms of a heat related illness move to a climate controlled location and seek medical attention if needed.”
While the weather is fair, many families and units will take advantage of outdoor activities. Remember to stay safe, and mitigate the risks around you.
For more information about the Summer Safety, heat related injuries or illnesses contact the medical clinic, your USR or the Occupational Safety Manager.