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DOD emphasizes importance of summer safety

American Forces Press Service

Published: 03:45PM June 19th, 2014

As the summer season approaches, the Defense Department is redoubling its efforts to promote safety and emphasize responsibility to all service members and their families, DOD’s director of personnel risk reduction said at the Pentagon recently.

During a joint interview with the American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Leonard Litton discussed the department’s efforts to reinforce caution during the “Critical Days of Summer.”

“The theme for this summer is doing the right thing for the right reasons,” Litton said. “And (Defense) Secretary (Chuck Hagel) reiterated that because the summer safety season is an important season for safety. We do tend to lose anywhere from 80 to 100 of our service members during this period of time.”

Accidents and ensuing loss, he said, occur mainly because of summer outdoor activities such as riding motorcycles, boating, parasailing and other warm-weather leisure pursuits.

“Some of those activities tend to have a little bit more risk associated with them,” Litton said.

Litton explained the importance of the “Critical Days of Summer” safety campaign and why DOD emphasizes caution and careful consideration of summertime activities.

“Generally we look at those (days) from the Memorial Day holiday through the Labor Day holiday — those 101 days that span that time period,” he said.

“There’s a lot of travel that goes on,” Litton said. “Folks are generally taking their vacations. Schools are out, and so sometimes folks may try to drive a little too far (without adequate rest).”

People also may try to drive when the weather’s not very good, he said, and sometimes outdoor events are attended where alcohol is involved, which may lead to poor choices in performing activities requiring “a lot of mental focus or a high level of dexterity.”

Litton emphasized applying safety principles learned and employed on-duty to situations off-duty.

“We do it well on-duty, but off-duty, sometimes we forget that training that we’ve had. We just do things that aren’t smart,” he said.

Applying these risk principles off-duty, he said, may prevent mishaps and fatalities that need not happen.

Each service has a website and safety center to provide information on travel safety, he said.

Litton said the leader sets a climate conducive to safe operations.”

It also gives people the freedom to speak up, he said, when they see something that doesn’t look right and they think the unit is taking too much risk at an activity or event.

“Everyone from the (youngest enlisted person) to the general officer has the responsibility to speak up when they see something they believe doesn’t look right or we’re taking excessive risks,” Litton said.