NORFOLK (NNS) -- With the temperature rising, baseball season is in full swing, and barbecues firing up, it can only mean one thing: spring is here and summer isn't far behind. However, that also means people need to take the time to consider the safety aspects of this busy time of year. In the spirit of summer and safety, military and civilian personnel attached to Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) participated in a summer safety stand down, May 5.
During the "101 Critical Days of Summer", which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, people are more likely to be injured or killed from accidents related to seasonal activities such as boating, swimming, severe weather and natural disasters, grilling, and traffic incidents.
The safety stand down included three guest speakers, two of whom were from the command and one state trooper from the Virginia Police Department.
Homer Morris, a retired master chief and the physical security specialist at COMOPTEVFOR, was the first to speak to the crowd. During his brief, Morris spoke about hurricane preparedness. Morris touched on basic information about hurricane storms, assembling a family disaster plan, caring for pets, home protection, and common safety hazards and prevention.
Discussing personal crisis awareness, Morris said many people overlook the importance of keeping belongings organized.
"During a crisis or an emergency, the first thing we should think about is 'what documents do we need to have access to?'" said Morris. While food, water and first aid will always remain important to keep on hand in the event of an emergency, Morris encouraged everyone to keep vital documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, legal documents, and similar paperwork in a sealed plastic bag.
"Being prepared is what we can control," he said. "Since you don't know where you'll be when an emergency occurs, preparing supplies now and having a plan is in your family's best interest."
After Morris completed his hurricane brief, COMOPTEVFOR's assistant safety officer, Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Terri Martin, presented her brief, stressing the importance of planning ahead and being safe.
"What we try to do with these stand downs is hopefully be proactive rather than reactive," said Martin. Rather than calling personnel together after an event to discuss the potential tragedy, Martin said stand downs offer a chance to educate people in the hopes of preventing accidents.
Martin covered topics such as water safety, alcohol consumption, outdoor activities and motorcycle safety.
"The summer months are often a high point of the year, as people like to take vacations and spend time with their family and friends," said Martin. "The summer allows for an opportunity to relax and refresh. However, many of the activities people pursue can put them at risk for accidents that have potentially serious consequences. We all must do everything we can to be safer this summer."
Closing out the safety stand down was Virginia State Police Trooper G. L. Long, who spoke about traffic safety and the importance of being aware of reckless driving, drinking and driving, and aggressive driving.
"One of the bad aspects of my job was investigating fatalities," said Long. Many of those fatalities could have been easily prevented, he added, if those involved recognized some of the red flags in their own behavior.
Long went on to say that he recommends always exercising good judgment and be aware of surroundings.
"The most dangerous activity Sailors do on a daily basis is drive on the highways," said Long. "Always be on the lookout for erratic drivers and be sure to keep proper distance between vehicles. [We] recommend one car length every 10 miles per hour of speed being driven. You don't want to end up being a statistic."
For more information on COMOPTEVFOR, visit www.navy.mil/local/COTF.