Keep your summer fun safe

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Many who enjoy warmer weather are probably looking forward to the rapidly approaching summer months, often called the "Critical Days of Summer" because, unfortunately, we lose too many Airmen and family members, or they end up in emergency rooms, during this time.

Shortly after the Class of 2014 graduates, many have plans to head-off to all corners of the earth to participate in summer activities. Depending on what those activities are, they will most likely require us to pause briefly to think about how we can ensure those activities are safe for us and our families.

One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is camp with my twin 11-year-olds. It's a seemingly simple task I've done countless times in the past but I found out camping has its own hazards.

In 2008 I was invited to camp with friends near 11-Mile Reservoir west of Colorado Springs. Like many mornings here, it started off with clear skies and calm winds -- perfect weather for camping. In the early afternoon, shortly after arriving at our campsite, I noticed a significant amount of clouds and the wind had picked up greatly. It was 20 minutes later and the clouds had gotten very dark, it started to rain horizontally and hail extremely hard -- all very bad signs.

Everyone ran to their cars to wait out the storm. Not long after, sitting in our cars and face-to-face with a waterspout over the reservoir, we realized our situation had become much worse.

Luckily, the funnel moved away from us and the storm passed. No one around the lake was injured, but it could have had a much different ending. Hopefully you won't find yourself in the middle of a tornado this summer, but I ask you to think about the hazards you may encounter during your summer activities.

What are your plans for this summer and what will you do to make those activities safe? Whether on a road-trip, hiking, biking, hanging-out in the water or staying around the house grilling, take a few minutes to remind yourself of the hazards associated with your activities and how you and your family can come out intact.

Enjoy your summer and thank you for keeping our Academy family safe.

Safe summer tips:

· Make sure your vehicle is thoroughly inspected prior to any extensive traveling.

· Make sure you take adequate rest while traveling long distances.

· Put together an emergency travel kit based on your trip.

· Let family or friends know where you're going.

· Take sunscreen and plenty of water to all summer activities.
· Wear life jackets while boating or jet-skiing.

· Drowning can happen quickly and silently. Supervise young children around water and establish clear guidelines.

· Don't drink alcohol while supervising children or before and during swimming, boating, waterskiing and driving.

· Helmets can be life-saving and protect you and your child from serious injury.

· Never leave children unattended in cars parked in the sun.