Summer is upon us and all of the fun activities that come along with it. However, along with that fun comes a potential for dangerous accidents and health concerns.
With COVID-19 restrictions slowly lifting Fort Hood is preparing its Soldiers and their families to be safe for the summer with the Keep It a Safe Summer Campaign and other safety tips to ensure everyone has fun and stays safe.
Ulysses Gary, prevention coordinator in the Prevention/Education Branch of the Army Substance Abuse Program, has been involved with the KISS Campaign for over 10 years and he is very passionate about the campaign’s message about being responsible with alcohol and drugs.
“This KISS Campaign covers illegal drugs and prescription drugs as well as alcohol. The major focus is that choices should be made sober.” Gary explained. “I believe that the information that is put out during the campaign helps save lives. It reduces alcohol and drug related incidents in our community, and it makes our Soldiers and family members more aware of the dangers of mixing any type of drugs to their daily life. I thrive on keeping our most valuable assets from harm, and that is our Soldiers and family members of America.”
Gary said the campaign was originally launched to educate, update and make people aware that when they go out, they should make the right decisions, to avoid fatalities and destroyed careers.
Three big points they go over in the campaign are making sure that Soldiers and their family members don’t drive themselves home if they drink, keeping in mind their blood alcohol content and how that affects the brain, and alternative options for a safe ride home such as Uber if they can’t secure a designated driver.
“You can have fun, but alcohol is no joke. It has no mercy on you. It takes everything. The number one killer of careers is alcohol and drugs,” he said.
Summer safety goes beyond just alcohol and drugs. Natural elements as simple as sunlight can cause a lot of damage.
The most critical days of summer take place from the start of Memorial Day weekend and end after Labor Day and it’s important to consider these safety tips during this time:
One of the best preventative measures against heat-related injuries is proper hydration, but not over-hydration, according to guidance from the Army Public Health Center. While adequate amounts of water can help regulate temperature, over-hydrating can lead to hyponatremia, where a person’s sodium levels drop too low.
“Drink one cup, eight ounces, of water every 15 to 20 minutes,” Gary Tomblin, the acting U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood safety manager, explained. “You have to have water, rest and shade. You can’t get work done without them.”
Heat injuries – dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke – occur when a person’s body temperature rises above normal or has trouble regulating temperature.
Some signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin, heavy sweating, dizziness, weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea and low blood pressure. If those symptoms occur, the person should stop activity, move to a cooler area, rest and hydrate. If symptoms do not improve within the hour, seek medical treatment immediately.
Some signs of heat stroke include extremely high (above 104 degrees) body temperature, confusion, agitation, slurred speech, flushed skin, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, headache and seizures. If a person is experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately, move to a cooler area, cool the person by any means available, such as water, fans, ice packs and wet towels applied to the head, neck, armpits and groin.
Warmer weather also means tick season. Since ticks can cause a host of diseases, it is recommended to wear long sleeves and long pants while hiking and be on the lookout for deer ticks. Deer ticks, which are tiny and hard to spot, can cause Lyme Disease. Once home, it is recommended to inspect clothes and body for ticks.
If circular red spot, that looks similar to a bullseye, is found on the skin after going outside, get in touch with a healthcare provider as quickly as possible.
Summer fun can also be firing up the pit for some, but there are many safety concerns with using grills as well.
Ezekiel Vaughns Jr., lead fire inspector for the Fort Hood Directorate of Emergency Services, shared a few safety tips when using grills to keep you and your home safe from possible fires.
“Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors. The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area. Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Never leave your grill unattended. Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it, and always have a fire extinguisher (ABC Type) or water nearby,” he explained.