Mitigating summer safety dangers
The 101 Critical Days of Summer Safety campaign provides safety tips and information for common summer activities throughout summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day. (Photo Credit: Allen Meeks, U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — With summer and its unique dangers approaching, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command focuses on the health and safety of their employees.

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are often called the 101 Critical Days of Summer, and the command increases safety awareness in a campaign dedicated to ensuring Soldiers and the civilian workforce have an injury-free summer. The USASMDC Safety Office said it is important to be mindful of safety concerns and make smart decisions, because summertime activities can provide a greater risk of accidents.

“Summer is the Army’s deadliest time of year, so playing it safe is critical to having a good time,” said Randy Joyner, SMDC Safety director. “With the restrictions from the pandemic relaxing, we are getting out and enjoying the outdoors. However, as we celebrate it is important that we keep safety in the forefront and continually assess the dangers around us.”

Heat-related illnesses result from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature. The evaporation of sweat is the normal way to remove body heat but when the humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as quickly.

“There are many dangers associated with the heat of summer,” Joyner said. “According to the National Weather Service, heat causes more deaths than any other weather event. It is very important to familiarize yourself with the signs of heat illness and what to do if you observe one.

“Knowing what to look for and the differences between heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps can make the difference between life and death,” he added.

Boating safety is another concern, especially drinking alcohol while operating a boat. Joyner said that in 2022, there were 636 boating fatalities nationwide and alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor, accounting for 88 of these deaths.

“It is also important to take a boating safety instruction as 74% of the deaths reported occurred on vessels in which the operator had not received any type of safety instruction,” Joyner said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more children, one in four, die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. Joyner added that for children between the ages of 1-14, drowning is the second cause of unintentional injury death, after motor vehicle crashes.

“There are an estimated 4,000 unintentional drownings every year with an additional 8,000 sustaining long-term health problems,” Joyner said. “So please take the time and effort to ensure your family members learn basic swimming and water safety skills and know what to do in case of an emergency.”

Joyner added that skin cancer, is one of various chronic diseases monitored in the active-duty Army population in the Army Public Health Center's annual Health of the Force report. He said that skin cancer is an especially preventable disease because ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun and tanning beds is the primary cause. He said the most potent safety protections against the sun are sunscreen, lots of water and knowing your own physical limitations.

“Additionally, please be aware of the symptoms of sunburn,” Joyner said. “When outdoors please wear sun protective clothing, UV-blocking sunglasses and cover any exposed areas of skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.”

For more summer safety advice, visit the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center website.