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Summer Activities: Get Out

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Are you and your family members prepared for outdoor summertime activities? Family members of all ages will be much safer this summer if you adhere to a few simple tips: 

a) Drink plenty of fluids - especially those with electrolytes such as a flavored sports drink

b) Apply sun screen liberally - apply water proof sun screen with a SPF of at least 15 and make sure that you reapply it every couple of hours 

c) Wear appropriate safety gear - life vests for water sports; helmets for skateboarding/biking/baseball/football; proper footwear - spikes or court shoes for appropriate sport 

d) Know the rules and guidelines for the sport/activity you are participating in 

e) Know your surroundings and weather conditions 

f) Know your physical limitations 

Last year while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, I unfortunately had to attend a memorial service for one of my best and brightest staff sergeants Byron Grandy-Richardson who decided to go snorkeling with four friends. The young 29-year-old father of three had plenty of "Wingmen" with him that day, so what went wrong? 

The conditions in the East China Sea started off that day being rather calm, but changed rapidly to rough and choppy. Two of his five friends decided to return to shore as soon as the water started getting rough. Three of the young men continued snorkeling for a while longer, and then began swimming towards a buoy about 300 feet from shore. Little did the three friends know that the channel the buoy was anchored in was more then 20 feet deep. By now Byron was exhausted and no longer able to hang onto the buoy, so one of his friends tried to help him to safety, but Byron was panic-stricken, he had lost his mask and fins, and was dragging his friend under. His friend finally had to break free to save himself. When he looked back Byron was gone. Byron drowned August 19, 2006, at 9:35 a.m. 

So what went wrong? Byron and at least two of his friends should have had life vests on since they were not great swimmer! They should have known their surroundings - it was common knowledge that four to five feet on either side of the buoy they could have stood on the coral reef in water up to their waists. The channel was notorious for causing rip tides forcing water back out to sea. 

I can't guarantee that nothing will happen to you and your family this summer, but if you follow the few simple tips mentioned above success may be easier to achieve. Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

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