101 Critical days of summer

  • Published
  • By Douglas Gromen
  • 88th Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- As the weather improves, outdoor and higher risk activities escalate. By countering identified risky activities through planning, preparation, and response, negative outcomes of the activities listed below can be minimized. Though memorable, traditional pastimes, all have associated risks that can be reduced.  Below are some higher risk activities and the associated safety controls needed to enjoy them, as well as general summer related hazards.

During the summer season of 2022, the Air and Space Forces lost 11 Airmen and Guardians to preventable off-duty mishaps.  During the summer of 2021, the Department of Air Force lost even more, 16 were lost to mishaps.  Most mishaps can be prevented or avoided through prudent practices, awareness, and sound judgement.

Using alcohol or controlled substances impairs the motor skills and cognitive function needed to avert summer activity related mishaps.  According to the CDC, 30 % of automobile fatalities in 2021 were related to alcohol use.  The U.S. Coast reports that using alcohol is the leading contributing factor in boat related fatalities.  In addition, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense similar to that when operating a vehicle. 

Motorcycle and Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) usage

Wear the correct PPE.  Correct PPE includes, a US DOT approved helmet, eye protection, long-fingered gloves, complete coverage of arms and legs with leather or heavy denim, boots or shoes with ankle protection.  Brightly colored clothing and/or reflective material is also advised.  Obey traffic laws, speed limits, and provide plenty of room between your motorcycle and other drivers.  Abstain from alcohol and certain medications that affect reflexes and reaction time.


If required, maintain a functional, charged fire extinguisher.  Wear life jackets or other personal floatation device.  Be aware of carbon monoxide symptoms and potential on vessels with internal combustion engines.  Complete a boating safety course to become familiar with boating rules.  All boats, to include kayaks and canoes need to be registered in the state of Ohio. 


NEVER SWIM ALONE.  Try to swim in areas where a lifeguard is present.  If situationally appropriate, wear a life jacket or personal flotation device.  Become an accomplished swimmer and know your limitations.  Learn CPR in the event a lifesaving act is needed.

Sun Exposure

Use sunscreen before going outside.  A wide brimmed hat and clothing also provides protection.  Protect eyes with sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.  Sun damage can occur in as little as 15 minutes.  Broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater will provide some protection to damaging rays.


Use protective eyewear and hand protection.  Do not use indoors and maintain a safe distance from lit material.  Keep a fire extinguisher or water supply near the detonation area.  Be aware of and follow all state and local laws.

Outdoor cardio activities

Consult a physician to assess limitations.  Perform warm-ups prior to and cool down following exercise. Stay hydrated and know the signs of heat related illnesses.  Avoid after dark activity, secluded areas, and implement the buddy system.  If biking, wear an approved helmet and utilize bike lanes and paths.


Only use grills outdoors and keep it at least ten feet from any structures.  Keep the grill clean and inspect for leaks.  Never leave the grill unattended and keep a fire extinguisher within reach.

Heat Related Illnesses

A related illness occurs when the body temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  As sweat evaporates it cools the body, if sweating can not control the heat, the body temperature rises.  Heat related illnesses include:

Sunburn-result of excessive exposure to the suns UV rays.  Red painful skin along with blistering are signs of sunburn.

Heat Cramps- muscle cramps or pain caused by strenuous activity that depletes salt and moisture levels.

Heat Exhaustion-excessive loss of water and salt, usually through sweating.  Symptoms include but not limited to-headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst, excessive sweating, elevated body temperature, and low urine output.

Heat Stroke-the most serious heat related illnesses. Occurs when body temperature reaches 106 degrees and can cause death or permanent disability.  Some symptoms are-confusion, loss of consciousness, hot dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures, or elevated body temperatures.