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Safety office recommends vigilance in seasons beyond 101 summer days

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Before the 101 Critical Days of Summer began, Team Eglin took a proactive approach in educating personnel on the importance of safety, on and off-duty. 

Unfortunately, however, three of the 22 Air Force Airmen lost during this time were close to home at Hurlburt Field and one Soldier here passed.

We also experienced our share of mishaps. When we put most of them under closer scrutiny, there is generally a commonality that if the learned warning was heeded, the mishap could have been prevented.
Although the 101 critical days have ended, we continue to educate personnel on safety tips for the seasons following summer; a time of school, holidays and hurricanes.

For the most part, our lives progress at an accelerated pace with no thought of mishap avoidance techniques. However, in the face of others operating at this accelerated pace, incorporating Operational Risk Management fundamentals into our on and off-duty activities has become paramount.

Our awareness may occasionally venture into "sleep mode" but should never be at a complete stop. Managing risk is being ready to respond with immediate defensive actions and poised to employ mishap avoidance maneuvers.

For instance, our children are back at school crossing to and fro in your path of travel. Are your skills honed at a level of immediate response should the need arise? Can you respond in a timely manner if they hurriedly and very distractedly crossed your path? Are you on the cell phone or texting? Bottom-line, if you're doing something else besides attending to your driving then you've dramatically increased your risk while endangering others on the road.

Heighten awareness is required during the school year. Whether or not you have children, you have to be aware of the change to traffic patterns, school buses and an increase in pedestrian traffic. School zones are clearly marked throughout the local area. Abide by all posted regulations and adhere to the crossing guard's guidance.

School buses cause a change in traffic patterns in every neighborhood. Upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring your vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped. No vehicle shall pass a school bus until the signal has been withdrawn. The only exception to this is if you are traveling on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least five feet, a raised median, or a physical barrier and you're traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus. However, when in doubt... stop!

Another reality of living on the Emerald Coast is hurricane season. Thankfully, its peak in activity has not been as problematic this year as it has been in the past. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking it will never happen. This is still not the time to lower your guard as we definitely are not out of the woods yet!

Keep your entire family prepared for hurricane season and the possibility of an evacuation. Ensure you have the necessary supplies on hand to avoid the last minute rush. A list of recommended supplies is available on Eglin's Web site, www.eglin.af.mil, under the hurricane tab.

Just like a family outing to a theme park, it's a good idea to have a designated meeting point or a common relative you can check in with incase of separation. Don't forget your pets! They are part of the family too and should be evacuated with you.

It's obvious we must be ever vigilant for developing problems and trouble. Alcohol, fatigue and excessive speed continue to play a critical role in vehicle mishaps.

Separately, they will challenge the responsiveness of the most skilled operator of two and four wheel vehicles. Together, you clearly have the makings of a "perfect storm" of catastrophic proportion.

A final reminder as we wrap up the Florida summer season and look to the fall, motor vehicle accidents continue to top issues of concern. Enjoy the fall and winter months but remember "Stay Vigilant, Stay Alive!"

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