'Live, Work, Play and Plan Your Day' for a safe summer

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- It has been a long cold winter in Northern Utah, followed soon by an even longer, colder and wetter spring. To say the least, we're all ready for a long hot summer. With the arrival of summer comes an upsurge in outdoor activities, such as swimming, boating, fishing, bicycling, hiking and camping, to name a few. Summertime also means we'll be using our automobiles and motorcycles a great deal more. While summer is undeniably a wonderful time of year, more often than not it is also the most perilous time of year.

Since the early 1980s the U.S. Air Force has emphasized mishap reduction strategies during its annual 101 Critical Days of Summer Campaign. The campaign traditionally takes place between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. This Air Force-wide campaign was developed in order to counter the traditional rise in Air Force mishaps and fatalities that occur during the summer months.

Last year during the 101 Critical Days of Summer the Air Force lost 15 Airmen to off-duty accidents. Since the early 1980's, the leading cause of fatal mishaps in the Air Force during the summer months has constantly been private motor vehicle accidents. Of the 15 off-duty deaths that occurred last year, 9 were due to automobile accidents, and 4 more were the result of motorcycle accidents.

What stands out, at least to me, is that all of these fatalities were preventable, and the principal causes of Air Force fatalities have been the same for the last 30 years. What is killing our people is driving at excessive speeds, not wearing seatbelts, fatigue, and the deadly combination of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word critical as "of decisive importance with respect to the outcome." During these upcoming Critical Days of Summer, let's try to focus on what is decisively important, the health and safety of Hill's military personnel, civilians, and our family members. A simple combination of using personal risk management and making smart choices can diminish mishaps and can keep us all safe this summer.

Being smart and risk management go hand-in-hand. It can be as simple as checking the weather before leaving on a trip, planning the vacation route, wearing your seatbelt, wearing your helmet, traveling at a safe speed, recognizing that even tough guys can get tired and pulling over when in need of rest, never drinking and driving or allowing your Wingman to make such a critical mistake.

Team Hill has a very competitive spirit. I know this because I see all the injury reports. Here's another thought to consider during our 101 Critical Days of Summer; Sports and Recreational activities are intended to be fun. There's no need to be overly aggressive or reckless while "playing a game". Believe me, those individuals with the "win at all cost" attitudes are always the one's that suffer, and cause, the most severe injuries.

This year's theme for Team Hill's 101 Critical Days of Summer is Live, Work, Play - Plan your Day. Our campaign kicks off with a Safety Day on Monday, May 23rd at Centennial Park. Come on out! Events include safety demonstrations and training, a 2-mile fun run, a See-Me-Save-Me ride by our base motorcyclists, and plenty of food and drink for all. Please enjoy the upcoming summer months and take care of yourselves, your family, and your fellow Airmen.