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Summer – A season to exercise off-duty safety

WASHINGTON -- “There are no second acts in American lives,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote.

Memorial Day Weekend signals the start of summer, traditionally a time of fun and sun. During the 101 Critical Days of Summer, we sometimes try to do too much because of the extra sunlight.

Here are suggestions on how to keep healthy and safe this summer:

Alcohol consumption – Don't drink and operate vehicles – automobiles, boats, jet skis, etc. If you drink, do it moderately and always appoint a designated driver.

Traveling – Be sober, vigilant and well-rested. Ensure everyone wears a seatbelt.

Watercraft – Know your craft and use personal floatation devices. Use caution when operating boats and jet skis, staying away from other boaters, swimmers and jet skiers.

Motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles – Don't operate without proper training and personal protective equipment. Always remain vigilant and drive defensively.

Outdoor activities – Before and after athletic activity, take a short moderate-to-brisk walk to improve circulation rather than stretching, which experts say contributes to muscle strain. Know your limits and don't overdo it. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, use sunscreens and drink plenty of water.

Swimming – Swim with a buddy in known waters and don't drink.

In the past few years we’ve been made more aware of the need for diligent force protection. We need to apply this same kind of vigilance off duty during the 101 Critical Days of Summer.

Most mishaps involve one or more of the following factors: alcohol, fatigue, darkness, bad weather, poor judgment, inappropriate risk-taking. Let’s use common sense, plan ahead and be prepared.

An “it-will-never-happen-to-me” attitude is not a guarantee but rather a recipe for disaster. Take care of your family and of your Air Force Reserve family. Be alert and prevent incidents that could cause a lifetime of regrets.

Let’s all enjoy the months of summer, but let’s enjoy our off-duty time responsibly.