101 days of summer: Have fun, think safety

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It seems like just yesterday as I perused Facebook, a post caught my attention with “Today’s the 110th day of January!” Yep, with all the snow in April, it felt like Colorado’s winter would never end. Fortunately, the cold weather has finally moved on, and summer will be quickly upon us.

Spanning from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the 101 days of summer is a great time to enjoy the wonderful outdoors with friends and family. I know my kids are excited to get out of the house and start exploring! My oldest has been begging to climb Pike’s Peak for the past six months. Guess it’s time to get out the hiking shoes and stop using the snow on the mountain as an excuse!

So, as kids are now out of school and the adults have emerged from winter’s hibernation, get outside and take full advantage of the warm weather and blue skies! Whether you stay local or are one of the thousands visiting family and friends across the nation, summer is a time to celebrate, take a break, relax, and recharge while playing and having a good time.

Unfortunately, summer is also a time of increased injuries and fatalities. Emergency rooms have been known to call summer “trauma season” as they tend to see more incidents from sports, motorcycles, trampolines, and swimming injuries to burns from barbecue grills and lawn mower mishaps. If we focus on what we are doing and think about safety, we can all have fun while accidents are avoided.

My past squadron leaders have always encouraged their supervisors to discuss summer safety with their Airmen before they travel on leave or enjoy a long holiday weekend. That’s good advice. You never know when a short discussion on safety reminders or risk management strategies may just save a life or prevent an injury.

For those new to Colorado Springs, a few words of caution. Outdoor activity at 6,035 feet is quite different from sea level. The air is thinner and dryer. The sun is over a mile closer. With every 1,000-foot increase in elevation, research shows the sun’s rays can be 8 - 10 percent stronger. Ouch! So, don’t forget the sunscreen! Stay hydrated. And, avoid the unfashionable lobster look.

Everyone deserves to have an absolutely tremendous summer. That includes emergency room workers, too. Let’s give them a break this year. Play hard, play safe. And, if someone asks you to “hold my beer (or soda),” it just may be a good opportunity to step up, be a good Wingman, and give them a gentle safety check.

So, let’s all enjoy a well-deserved break in the sunshine! Just please be safe. I for one plan to avoid the barbecue burnt eyebrow and lobster skin looks this summer. How about you?