WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The “101 Critical Days of Summer” is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. During this time people tend to participate in activities that could potentially be dangerous if precautions are not taken.
“Safety is an individual responsibility,” Barbara Van Den Berg, Naval District Washington (NDW) safety program director. “Summer is the time where people vacation and have the opportunity to engage in riskier activities like swimming in the ocean, boating, and jet skiing. That increased risk often leads to our mishap numbers going up. It’s important that everyone takes it upon themselves to take measures to remain safe while they’re having fun.”
Each year from FY13-FY19, the military has lost an average of 13 Sailors and 8 Marines in off-duty mishaps. From FY15-FY19, there were 79 off-duty Navy and 75 off-duty Marine Corps cases where alcohol was a contributing factor to the mishap.
“Alcohol consumption is often a factor in risky behavior, whether it be driving, boating or swimming. Any of the activities that people look to do over the summer, people who are drinking are more likely to take risks that they wouldn’t if they weren’t drinking. Your leadership is not going to be with you as you vacation with your family, so it’s important to make good decisions and not mix alcohol with high-risk activities,” said Van Den Berg.
Summer 2020 is unique from a safety perspective, as some states are beginning to relax stay-at-home orders and open up places that were closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Van Den Berg says it’s important to remain aware of the threat of COVID-19 throughout the summer.
“As the restrictions loosen, people are going to want to get out of the house and engage in a lot of the fun activities they would normally get into during the summer. They still need to be cautious even when things get better and know there is still going to be a risk of contracting COVID-19. People are going to have to be careful as they look to travel and socialize in larger groups,” said Van Den Berg.
NDW Command Master Chief Michael Carbone says he’s turned down invitations to social gatherings in order to make himself a hard target for COVID-19.
“Since some restrictions got lifted, I’ve been invited to pool parties and neighbors’ houses,” said Carbone. “I’ve had to respectfully decline because I’m still aware that I can get people sick or people could get me sick. We need to be able to recognize that as groups start getting larger that we’re at greater risk. And it’s also important to remember that low risk doesn’t mean no risk.”
While safety is an individual responsibility, Carbone wants to remind Sailors of their obligation to protect the mission and their shipmates by doing everything they can to remain safe.
“In order to protect the force, I have to maintain awareness of what’s going on and I think we all have that responsibility. So, as you’re looking at barbeques or pool parties, you have to be smart about your plan. We need every Sailor. I can’t do my job or perform my mission if I injure or disable myself. I understand that my job is bigger than me because I serve my country. Taking care of yourself and minimizing risk is mission essential,” said Carbone.
For more news from Naval District Washington, visit www.navy.mil/local/ndw/.