<b>FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>-Soldiers, Family Members and Army Civilians perusing the covered booths and trailers set up for Fort Stewart's annual Summer Safety Expo came away with an understanding that it's the individual's responsibility to stay focused and be safe this summer.

"Safety is one of those things where you have to stay focused," Bill Walker, Installation Safety Office told a small crowd of Soldiers and Army Civilians as the Safety Expo got underway, May 24.

Walker talked about many of the safety issues on display at the expo, including drinking and driving, speeding, swimming during a rip tide, insects, fire safety with outdoor barbecue and heat injuries. He then invited visitors to stop at each booth, ask questions and learn how to be safe this summer.

The expo consisted of nearly a dozen sheltered booths and trailers set up in a round-robin arrangement around the perimeter of Stewart's motorcycle training area, each offering information and advice about specific safety issues. Some information learned at one booth, say drinking and driving, was also talked about at the booth for the Army Substance Abuse Program. While boating safety was discussed at one booth, another booth talked about swimming safety so that all aspects of water safety were covered.

A large motor home featuring the Installation Management Command's Traffic Safety Training Program provided essential information about personal protective gear for motorcyclists, including helmets, eye protection, abrasive-resistant, reflective clothing (jacket, pants and gloves) and sturdy footwear. There was also information about the Simulator Basic Rider Course, Basic Rider Course, Experience Rider Course, Military Sport Bike Rider Course and Motorcycle Refresher Training. In order to operate a motorcycle on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, you must have successfully completed the 2-day Basic Rider Course. Motorcycle Refresher Training is a 2-hour course required for inbound Soldiers who've been away from the sport while deployed.

Honda Yamaha of Savannah also manned an information booth, providing safety information specific to riders of these motorcycles.

Range Control was on hand with information about unexploded ordnances. A picture chart explained that over 77 percent of Fort Stewart has been part of a range or impact area at some time. Soldiers are advised to look at for UXOs during training, and if they find one, they're told to "Recognize, Retreat and Report" it to to Range Control. Department of Defense Conservation Law Enforcement officers were also on hand to talk about what they do to protect natural resources and enforce conservation laws.

Jose Sanchez, Fort Stewart Fire Department, and other firemen took turns guiding visitors through a "Fire Safety" trailer used to teach children especially about home safety in the event of a fire. The trailer included a simulated kitchen living room/dining area and a bedroom. Sanchez said kids are taught what to do if they see a pan on a stove with the handle sticking out within a small child's reach, how to put out grease fires, how to keep paper and other flammables away from a fireplace and how to call 911. A burned/melted portable stereo provided kids with visible evidence of what a fire can do. An ash tray sitting on a bed was used to show kids the dangers of smoking in bed.

The booth for swimming safety included a life guard/aquatic instructor as the subject matter expert. Haley Phillips, life guard with Bryan Village pool this summer, talked about the effects of heat during the summer, including information about sun screen and proper hydration. She said Stewart-Hunter pools try to accommodate all ages of non-swimmers with life preservers.

"Don't leave your children unattended," Phillips said, reciting the most important advice she has for parents. "A child can drown in a tablespoon of water if it gets in the lungs. Another, probably one of our biggest rules we have to remind everyone, is to stop running. An excited child will run toward the pool and slide down; then the parent will run over to help, only to slide down also. Pool areas are wet and slippery. People have to remember that."

Chris McCormick, Installation Safety Office, said the Safety Expo kicks off what the installation calls the 100 Days of Summer, or roughly Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, a time when Soldiers and Families are thinking about summer fun. The Safety Expo reminded those that attended that safety should not be sacrificed for fun.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16