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NEWS | May 21, 2021

Risk management: the key to a safe and enjoyable summer

By Lisa Gonzales Air Force Safety Center

The Department of the Air Force reminds Airmen and Guardians to apply sound risk management when enjoying outdoor and recreational activities with family and friends this summer. The summer focus period runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration summertime travel, which includes the summer holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day), accounts for the highest average motor vehicle crashes and fatality rates per day; over 9,000 lives were lost from May to August of last year.

With more people on the roadways; accidents are bound to happen and not planning ahead is where problems can arise. 

The use of risk management when planning a road trip means getting your vehicle serviced to ensure the fluids are topped off as well as making sure the tires, spare tire and tire jacks are all in good working condition. Have an emergency roadside kit stocked with flares, reflective gear, first aid items, extra water, blankets, and food in case of possible stranding for long periods of time. Pull over when feeling drowsy, focus on the road at all times and if taking medications, make sure they do not cause drowsiness. 

The Department of the Air Force lost 15 service members to preventable mishaps during last year’s summer focus. The leading causes of those fatalities were motor vehicle accidents and water-related activities. According to the Summer Safety and Health Advocacy Memorandum sent out by Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth, “simple actions – such as wearing a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet, putting on a proper life preserver, or focusing on the road and not your cell phone – saves lives.”

Summer allows us time to share in the enjoyment of warmer weather activities. It’s important to keep in mind the risks of injury prior to participating. Camping, traveling, or boating are all activities sure to draw people outside with the season change. The dangers of these fun-filled activities can often be overlooked and result in an emergency room visit or worse.

“Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer and many families will be heading outdoors to enjoy the warmer weather and taking road trips to visit family and friends," said Michael Ballard, chief of Occupational Safety for the DAF. “I encourage each of you to make a risk assessment before you travel or when participating in summer activities to help prevent or mitigate injuries or deaths. The loss of one Airman, Guardian, or family member is one too many!”

The DAF has established Air Force Instruction 90-802, Risk Management guidance to assist in identifying and mitigating safety and health hazards to make informed decisions. Risk is inherent in all activities, both on and off duty. By performing a risk assessment Airmen and Guardians can systematically evaluate possible courses of action, identify risks and benefits, and determine the best course of action for any given situation.

In the last six years, motor vehicles made up the majority of mishaps resulting in injury with 885, followed by team sports with 596. Last summer alone, service members suffered 470 mishaps that took them out of work for at least one day. When a service member is unable to work this puts a strain on other members in their work areas and is detrimental to getting the mission accomplished. 

Keeping risk management a part of summer planning can help mitigate the risks associated with all of those fun-filled activities.

For additional summer safety information, visit the Air Force Safety Center website at https://www.safety.af.mil/Divisions/Occupational-Safety-Division/Summer-Safety/