101 Critical Days of Summer continues to promote risk management on & off duty

  • Published
  • By Capt Paige Mehringer
  • Air Force Safety Center

Each summer, many of us find ourselves driving to the beach to soak up the sun, feel the hot sand beneath our feet, and beat the heat by racing into the cool ocean waves. However, these particular summer past-times include three of the biggest risks during the 101 Critical Days of Summer: driving, excessive heat, and the water.

Memorial Day marks the start of 101 Critical Days of Summer and ends on Labor Day. This campaign promotes operational and off-duty risk management skills to ensure that Airmen, Guardians and their families stay safe during what should be the most enjoyable time of the year.

“Our Airmen and Guardians are on-mission around the world, and they integrate proactive safety measures into their military operations every day,” said Maj. Gen. Sean Choquette, DAF Chief of Safety and commander of the Air Force Safety Center. “As summer approaches, we are here to help everyone apply that same level of thoughtful risk management in our personal lives as we enjoy our summer activities.”

So, why is the 101 Critical Days of Summer a necessary campaign? Some of the biggest risks are also preventable. According to the National Safety Council, data for 2021 shows motor vehicle fatalities increased during the summer months by as much as 405 deaths. Drowning related deaths increased in June, July and August by as much as 333 fatalities, and excessive heat related deaths increased by as much as 193 fatalities.

During this time last year, the Department of the Air Force had 190 mishaps involving a motor vehicle with 85 percent occurring off duty. Additionally, DAF had 228 off-duty mishaps occurring during sports and recreation, 21 involving water. In total, the Department, unfortunately, lost 20 lives during the 2023 summer.

In light of these statistics, it is crucial to prioritize safety behind the wheel. To help you start your summer right, here are a few tips to stay safe while driving this summer: Stay hydrated during long drives to keep alert and focused, and plan ahead for rest areas to prevent fatigue. Buckle-up and be sure that your passengers do too!  Moreover, be sure to get your car serviced to ensure your vehicle stays cool and comfortable during the hottest days.

Many of us are off to enjoy the beautiful weather at our favorite pool, lake or ocean, but beware, while it keeps you cool the water comes with its own set of safety hazards. Keep you and your loved ones in one piece by wearing proper floatation devices, research potential hazards, like rip tides and drop-offs, and know your local boating laws. Additionally, while you may feel comfortable, be cautious of sun exposure. It’s always important to wear sunscreen and clothing to protect you from the sun’s rays.

Just like when you are at the beach, it is imperative to protect against heat exposure and other hazards when hanging outdoors with your friends and family. As always, stay hydrated! During peak sun hours, be sure to seek shade, avoid strenuous outdoor activities and take frequent breaks to cool down. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the rules, regulations and tips for your activities to prevent accidents before they occur. Your risk assessments and precautions keep you, your loved ones, and the mission safe!

“Our Occupational Safety Division works hard to provide our Airmen, Guardians and their families with the tools and information they need to enjoy their summer safely,” stated William Walkowiak, chief of Occupational Safety at AFSEC. “Similar to last year, we challenge everyone to assess the risks of any activities this season to prevent injuries or worse.”

With so many preventable injuries or deaths in the summer months, we encourage everyone to implement the appropriate risk management on and off duty. Our goal to have zero mishaps and fatalities begins with you and your safety practices, and we are here to help!

Visit 101 Critical Days of Summer webpage for more summer safety and risk management tips.