Heat, sun, water. The things we love about summer can also be the most dangerous.
The Army observes National Safety Month each June “with a focus on reducing injuries, illness, death and equipment damage while on duty, off duty, driving on our nation’s roads and highways, or in the comfort of our barracks, homes and communities,” according to a public affairs release that also calls summer “the Army’s deadliest time of year for mishaps.”
The Garrison Safety Office is out with this message as summer begins and we take to the beach, pool and highway.
Rodney Shepherd, safety specialist, said his office is focusing on “all things summer” as Safety Month is now in full swing.
Heat stroke, boating accidents, and accidental drownings are all things to be aware of and avoided by following safety protocol, he said.
Before boating, whether in a public or private vessel, large or small, it’s critical to count life vests and be sure there are enough for each person in the right size – and to make sure each person knows where to find them.
Boat drivers should not drink alcohol and should be on the lookout for “the other guy,” perhaps someone who is under the influence or is otherwise not proficient behind the wheel.
This includes “drivers” of jet skis who may be young and inexperienced, Shepherd noted.
Pool safety is often less an issue at a public pool where lifeguards are standing by to assist in case of an accident.
But home pool owners should be reminded of the water’s temptation to toddlers and young children who are not yet able to swim.
“Someone falls in the pool. No one’s paying attention,” Shepherd said, adding that such a tragedy occurred in his own family several years ago, when an unattended 5-year-old died.
Overheating is another summer danger he warns against.
“Understand and know what is going on with your body” when you are out in the sun, Shepherd said. “You’re looking for any irregularities.”
Headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, clammy skin, muscle cramps and rapid heart rate are all possible symptoms of heat stroke, he said.
The two best ways to avoid overexposure to heat are to stay hydrated and take breaks.
“Drink water continuously,” Shepherd said. “Get your body used to having water.”
Crews who must work outside should ideally work in rotation to avoid overheating and have access to cooling stations with shade and water. Operating on the buddy system where one worker makes sure another is doing fine is also recommended.
If fireworks are part of your celebration, be sure to use them carefully and allow children to do so only with supervision.
Lastly, before you hit the road for a long weekend trip or vacation, be sure your car is in good working order. Tire condition and tire pressure are at the top of the list.
“Check your vehicle. Prepare your vehicle,” Shepherd said. “Of course, make sure you have emergency equipment in your vehicle.”
For more information on National Safety Month, visit the National Safety Council website at nsc.org.