101 Critical Days of Summer defending the human weapon system

  • Published
  • By Lisa Gonzales
  • Air Force Safety Center

The 101 Critical Days of Summer begins Memorial Day weekend and continues through Labor Day weekend. During this timeframe, Airmen and Guardians tend to participate in more outdoor activities, travel, barbeque, and explore new things over a season that has historically come with a higher risk of danger.

This year, the Air Force Safety Center is reinvigorating the 101 Critical Days of Summer with off-duty risk management materials created to educate Airmen and Guardians on the risks associated with summer activities. This year’s theme will be “See Something, Do Something … Live to be Lethal.”

Risk management isn’t only for on-duty but belongs in people’s daily lives to defend the Human Weapon System, the Airmen, from unnecessary threats that could result in injury or even death.

"Historically, Airmen are exposed to increased risks during the summer, but here on the Emerald Coast we are fortunate to experience summer-like weather for more than half of the year,” said Col. Vincent Chioma, 96th Test Wing Chief of Safety.  “While many of us might engage in higher risk summer-related activities, our goal is the same - zero fatalities.” 

Reaching the goal of zero mishaps and fatalities begins with every Airman and Guardian. Over the past ten summers, 2013-2022, beginning the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day, there have been 134 unnecessary off-duty fatalities. The top three riskiest activities were four-wheeled motor vehicles, followed by motorcycles and water-related activities and  sports. One Airman or Guardian lost to a preventable mishap is one too many.

Additionally, a new trend shows a growing number of e-bike and e-scooter mishaps. E-scooters and e-bikes provide a convenient and easy way of getting around in a crowded city, they are compact, lightweight, and environmentally friendly, but they can also be dangerous if not used with the proper training and the right personal protective equipment. Just like with any motorized vehicle, always follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines when it comes to use and PPE.

Summer is a time to enjoy the warm summer days with family and friends, not spend time in the emergency room or, worse, mourning the loss of a loved one, friend, or co-worker. It is a time to be committed to reducing the chance of disaster simply by speaking up before it happens.

According to the National Safety Council, an average of 17,503 people died every summer between 2016 and 2020 on roadways across the U.S. Don’t be one of those statistics; prepare for your trip by getting your vehicle checked out, plan ahead to combat inclement weather and fatigue, and ensure that an emergency kit is included with your bags stocked with vehicle supplies, extra water, food, batteries, and a phone charger.

The World Health Organization states that drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death worldwide.  Water activities like boating, fishing, and swimming can cool a person off, but one wrong decision could mean injury or death.  Use a life jacket around the water, don’t drink and boat or swim, always keep an eye on small children, and make sure they have life jackets on.

The summer days can become extremely hot, and heat cramps, stroke, or exhaustion can happen quickly. Be prepared to help someone in trouble. Get them out of the sun and cool them down by applying water, cool air, wet sheets, or ice on the neck, groin, or armpits. Seek medical attention immediately.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that an average adult loses about two and a half quarts of water daily. Water helps your body lubricate and cushion joints, protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. Drinking approximately eight to 12 glasses of water throughout the day will help the body stay hydrated.  Dehydration can happen before you know it.  If out in the sun, know the signs, headaches, nausea, dry skin, and muscle or joint soreness are just a few.

It is imperative that Airmen and Guardians implement proper off-duty risk management in every activity they engage in during the 101 Critical Days of Summer and beyond.

“Personal risk management is key to protecting our most important resource; the men and women of Team Eglin and their families,” Chioma said.  “Each of us plays a role to help achieve our goal.  Preparation, common sense, and self-discipline are all keys to maintaining mission readiness and enjoying a safe summer.”

For more information, call 882-2540 or visit the Air Force Safety Center’s summer webpage.