101 Critical Days of Summer: Are You Prepared?

  • Published
  • By Russell Devino
  • 1st SOW Safety Office
The 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign is upon us. This annual campaign began in the early 1980s to combat the increase of accidents and fatalities that traditionally occur during the summer months. The goal is to significantly reduce the number and severity of these mishaps through increased personal risk management and awareness. 

This year the campaign begins at 4 p.m. May 22 and ends at 7 a.m. Sept. 1. During this period, longer hours of daylight and nice weather typically bring Team Hurlburt members outdoors to participate in an infinite number of activities. Many of these activities can cause serious or fatal injuries when proper risk management is not considered. 

During the 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign last year, the 1st Special Operations Wing lost four Air Commandos to tragic but preventable mishaps that may have been avoided through applied risk management and the implementation of adequate control measures.
It's human nature to underestimate the risks associated with day-to-day activities. That is why most people think accidents only happen to "other people." This feeling of invincibility often leads to poor judgment and a lack of proper planning. By assessing all potential risks associated with recreational activities, we are better informed and better prepared to make responsible choices that can mitigate risk and prevent injuries. 

It's an easy fix to a complex problem. Just break down each activity into smaller steps and consider all the potential hazards within each step. What could go wrong that you have not thought about? What if this happened ... what if that happened, etc? Once you've identified the hazards, you can take action and implement the necessary controls to reduce your risk and avoid mishaps. 

Never assume any task or activity is too simple to create a mishap. Even simple activities like barbecuing can turn disastrous when potential hazards are not taken seriously. Every year, backyard chefs burn themselves and start unintentional fires with barbecue grills. 

Some activities require even more preparation. If kayaking, ensure you are trained and familiar with the area. If hiking, be familiar with your surroundings and never hike alone. When in a vehicle, drive well rested, always wear your seatbelt and don't speed. If you're a motorcycle operator, always wear your personal protective equipment and ensure your passengers do likewise. 

It's also a good idea to let someone know your plans. Tell them where you are going and when you expect to return. Above all else, never mix alcohol with your summer activities! 

These are just a few examples because it's not possible to cover the myriad of summer activities Hurlburt members will be involved in this summer. But the bottom line is to be prepared! 

Our goal is to have a successful 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign with zero fatalities, but everyone must do their part. Although each member is ultimately responsible for his or her actions, wingmen can positively influence decisions and play a vital role in the prevention process. 

As Airmen in the United States Air Force, we are all wingmen and have a responsibility to look after one another. This responsibility must be extended to our immediate family members because they are an important part of our Air Force team. If you recognize a fellow Airman or family member making a poor decision that could result in injury, speak up. By doing so, you may prevent an injury or even save a life. Have a fun and safe summer!