Culture of Safety Key to a Safe 101 Critical Days of Summer

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161 ARW Public Affairs
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer. This is historically the period in which the Air Force experiences the highest number of safety mishaps, particularly during off-duty activities.

Increased daylight hours and better weather provide more opportunities for travel and recreation. Unfortunately, many wingmen ignore the risks associated with summer activities. During the summer of 2009, there were 22 off-duty fatalities across the Air Force, up from 17 the previous year. In 2010, there were 18 fatal mishaps Air Force wide.

In previous years, alcohol use and not wearing personal protective equipment was a factor in the fatalities; however, according to the Air National Guard Safety report, in 2010 these unsafe practices were not a factor.

To continue to see a decline in mishaps by utilizing operational-risk-management principles, commanders and supervisors should emphasize risk awareness for their Airmen engaged in summer related activities.

Servicemembers should not swim alone. Also, remember that combining alcohol with swimming increases the potential for a safety mishap. Swimming in unfamiliar areas should also be avoided. If boating, it is advisable to take a boating safety course. Boaters must be alert, sober and wear life jackets when underway.

For all sporting activities, use conditioning and stretching exercises and wear your personal-protective equipment. Avoid overexertion; the summer heat brings on fatigue more quickly.

In addition, any military member owning or operating a sport bike will be required to take Air Mobility Command-directed sport-bike proficiency training consisting of classroom instruction, range exercises, an on-base ride and an off-base ride monitored by instructors and squadron-motorcycle mentors. Wing Safety will work with squadron motorcycle safety representatives for scheduling.
It's critical that motorcycle operators also wear the proper personal-protective equipment as required by Department of Defense and Air Force instructions. Even though helmets are not required in Arizona, they are required to be worn by all DoD identification cardholders while riding on or off base, on or off duty. Helmets are also required for any rider on a DoD installation.

"The goal of these guidelines is mishap prevention by creating a culture of safety," said Chief Master Sgt. Terry Bronson, Chief of Wing Safety. "Always ask  'what if'. If you're driving, ask 'what will the driver in front of me do?' and expect others to do the wrong thing."

According to a 161 ARW handout, watching out for others and having others watch out for your safety is the first step in building a sound safety culture.

"Your primary focus should be on being observant of yours and others actions," said Chief Bronson. "We can't fly, fight and win without a culture of safety."