Outdoor activities such as swimming, boating, recreational alcohol use, tanning, trying to stay hydrated and barbecuing have increased since the start of the summer.
All of these activities present a higher opportunity for risk during the summer. The annual safety campaign, led by the Fort Hood Garrison Safety Office, stands as a reminder to the community to set safety as their number one priority.
“Before anyone engages in any summer related events, they should ensure that they do a risk assessment, not necessarily on paper, but a risk assessment of some of the hazards they might encounter with those activities,” Daniel Orta, garrison safety manager, said.
Army Regulation 385-10 governs the safety standards on Fort Hood, Julie Cordova, garrison safety specialist, said.
Water safety and boating
Being safe around any body of water is always a concern during the summer for the Garrison Safety Office. Orta said that people out boating at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreational Area need to have the proper license and ensure that they are following the designated rules.
Fort Hood Regulation 210-15 covers regulations on swimming and uses of the beach, Gary Tomblin, garrison safety specialist, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation liaison, said.
A safety tip that Tomblin shared, was not to leave children unattended near the water.
“Why would you rely on somebody else to safeguard your child?” Tomblin questioned. “Accidents happen even when lifeguards are posted.”
Cordova said that children should learn how to swim as soon as possible. Swimming lessons are available through an MWR program.
Tomblin said that proper safety planning and precautions should be followed while in, or around water.
“Proper equipment when swimming, or boating,” Tomblin said. “Have personal flotation devices on at all times when you’re on the water in a boat – Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices.”
Tomblin warns the community that boating accidents are possible.
“There has been several already this year,” Tomblin said. “Off of Temple, they found an individual that had been missing.”
Cordova said that although an alcoholic beverage may seem appealing in the summer heat, all it does is dehydrate the body, leaving one at risk for a heat-related injury. Tomblin also believes that alcohol use during summer activities do not pair well.
“Alcohol doesn’t mix with anything – especially recreational activities out in the heat,” Tomblin said. “Because not only does it affect your judgment, but it brings on heat stress more readily.”
Heat injures and staying hydrated
In the U.S., Texas ranks in the top five hottest states. During the summer, the number of heat induced injuries and accidents go up. Cordova shared that one of the biggest concerns during the summer in Central Texas is the heat.
“Temperatures here on Fort Hood get extremely high. Whether in the shade or on the water, you need to be aware with some of the hazards that are associated with summer events,” Orta said. “Temperatures are extreme out here …”
Orta said that Soldiers working in the heat should practice a work/rest cycle throughout the day.
Cordova shared that when she does outdoor activities, she always carries a hydration pack.
“That’s the biggest thing – staying hydrated and adhering to the work/rest cycles,” Cordova said.
Tomblin said that people need to know the warning signs and symptoms of heat stress and illness. Cordova said that if the body is no longer sweating, this is an indication of a medical emergency.
During the summer, many people strive to accomplish sun-kissed skin, while over exposing themselves to the sun for hours. Cordova shared that this is not a good idea.
“Lots of sunscreen…,” Cordova said. “It might seem cool to get a tan, but the risk of skin cancer isn’t worth it and being sun burnt isn’t worth it.”
“Don’t grill out underneath an overhang, or inside your garage, or right next to your house,” Tomblin said.
Every month, the Garrison Safety Office publishes a newsletter, which has safety alerts and safety training.
The newsletter for July had seven summer safety tips on barbecuing: keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house, clean your grill regularly, check for gas leaks, keep decorations away from your grill, keep a fire extinguisher within a couple of steps away from your grill, turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed, and do not leave the grill unattended.
“As a whole, our mission is safety – to protect Soldiers and their family members,” Tomblin said.
“What can I do to lessen the chance of injury?,” Cordova said.
Cordova said that a risk assessment should always be done prior to any summer activities. You can’t think of everything, but thinking and planning ahead lessens the chance of summer injuries, Tomblin said.
“The biggest thing is make sure that you have a plan,” Tomblin said. “That you’re thinking about what you’re going to do before you do it.”
“Nine times out of 10, when we get complacent, something bad is going to happen,” Tomblin said. “I would ask the Soldiers, their family members, and civilians to not be complacent with complacency.”