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When summer safety ends, fall safety begins

  • Published
  • By Capt. Erik Goff
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Safety
The critical days of summer have come to a close, but that doesn't mean we can store away our bicycle helmets and start weed whacking in sandals. The campaign exists to emphasize safety during the time of the year when more hazardous activities are easier or more popular because of the nice weather.

As we move in to fall we must prepare for a new set of activities that bring their own hazards. Whether it's Halloween candy, turkey frying, or the late-fall travel season, there are fun events coming up and to make sure they stay fun, we have to do a little homework. With the cooler temperatures rolling in, camping, biking, hiking, hunting, barbecuing and touch football will be great ideas. Along with those activities let's remember to prepare, stretch, listen to the experts, and wear the right protective equipment. Assess thyself. If you're over 30, subtract a few points off that assessment. Have a plan, and execute that plan, but don't plan while intoxicated; those plans usually don't work out. We can't eliminate all risk, but we must look at the worst case scenario and decide if it is acceptable.

My favorite explanation of this concept is a child near a stove. If my 3-year-old was helping me cook or grill, I do not want them to get burned, but if they happen to brush against a pan and get a small burn, it might teach them not to touch that surface again. My risk assessment is that there is a moderate risk of a minor (first-aid type) threat. If I'm boiling water, this completely changes the assessment. The worst case scenario goes from a light burn, to a life-changing injury, if something goes wrong. This would be a moderate risk of a severe or catastrophic threat. 

People often wonder why we bother with programs like the Critical Days of Summer, or risk management, because you really have to look to find any positive outcomes. We don't hear too many stories of people choosing to take a nap at a rest stop because they were tired, or choosing to go get a breakfast burrito instead of flying in overly-questionable weather, but if we can affect one outcome, convince one person to take a nap rather than get behind the wheel intoxicated or tired, we've met our goal. Achieving our goal in this case is difficult to celebrate, because no one hears about the good decisions people make, we tend to concentrate on the bad decisions.

We also get wrapped up on the "big" events, and breeze by the smaller tasks like lighting a grill or playing touch football. We have to remember that most days the most dangerous thing we do is drive to work. When we are doing something new or hazardous, we need to remember to look at the big picture first. We can't live in bubble wrap, and we should want to go out and do awesome things, let's just do them safely.

18 fall safety tips:

Yard Work-
1. If you're cutting an overhead branch, look where it will fall. Don't be in that spot, especially while on a ladder.
2. Wear close-toed shoes, whether you're mowing, weed whacking, raking or cutting wood.
3. Is it time for a mid-tour oil change on your mower?  Change the oil when the motor is cool, put down some cardboard and be ready to catch the oil.
4. Always turn off a mower before trying to clear any kind of debris.

5. Take a safety course or a refresher course. You may have forgotten something important since last year.
6. Let others know where you're going, don't hunt alone, and bring a phone.
7. Identify the target before you put your finger on the trigger, and only point the firearm at things you intend to kill.
8. Wear the proper clothing to avoid becoming the hunted.

Drinking Alcohol-
9. Have a plan. Don't drink and drive.

10. Throw a blanket, some food and water in your car in case of emergencies.
11. Check your tires. Wrong pressure equals bad wear patterns, which could lead to a blow-out or just being stranded by a flat.

12. Place the grill in a safe location, not by the football game and not where the kids are running.
13. Watch for cross contamination of raw meat. Check meat temperature with a thermometer and wash every surface the meat touches.

14. Bring extra supplies like food, water, a compass and a pocket knife.
15. Know your way out and know the safe direction to go in any case (Is there a major road to the north?).
16. Know your route - use caution on a new route. If you're ending in the same place, make sure to turn back early enough to have the energy to make the return, and with ample time to get back.

17. Be careful with sharp objects and fire when around children.

Playing sports-
18. Stretch, start out slow, and apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) if you happen to tweak something.