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Commentary: Summer safety starts with you

Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. -- The temperature is rising and summer time is calling.

As we begin to enter those important months of focus, when mishap rates tend to increase, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and your wingmen.

So, what is critical about summertime? You.

Each member of the Air National Guard is critical to the success of the mission. It doesn't matter what job you do or what position you hold. In the grand scheme of things, every member plays a vital role in ensuring that the mission comes first. At any time each of us could be called upon to actively support that mission anywhere in the world.

If you are injured and unable to perform your job, it can put excessive stress and responsibility on others. That added stress, combined with the pressures already on the shoulders of the individual, can be a formula for failure.

Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, confirms that more injuries and mishaps occur during the summer months. This time period is not a time to relax and let your guard down. Hazards arise at this time that you haven't had to deal with since last year. Some of the common hazards are related to rising temperatures: dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Awareness should be at the front of your mind. Hydration not only needs to occur when you are thirsty, but constantly throughout the day. If you know you are going to be working outside, or have your annual fitness assessment to complete, don't wait until the morning of those activities to hydrate. You should be drinking sufficient amounts of water days prior to those events.

The heat also tends to make us feel worn down and unmotivated. These traits can lead to apathy and not following your risk management strategies. We can easily become complacent in the workplace and even at home, causing a lapse in focus, and in turn, opening the door for injury or mishap.

Your focus needs to be strong at all times. And not just in your work environment but in all that you do. Injuries away from work still effect the team and the mission. You are a key link in the machine. And while the mission will continue on if you are not involved, without you, the engine will not run as smoothly or efficiently as it could.

For any questions regarding safety, contact your military installation's safety office. For 111th Attack Wing members, contact us at 215-323-7173