Summer safety shifts into gear

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amanda Dick
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
For Team Ramstein members, June is in full swing and brings with it a few observances -- National Safety Month and Year of the Air Force Family Safety Month -- that also coincide with an Air Force safety campaign.

While Ramstein observes safety 365 days a year, June also falls into the Air Force Critical Days of Summer safety campaign.

"The nice weather has finally arrived, and everybody will be out and about to enjoy the sunshine," said Master Sgt. Ernest Sustaita, 86th Airlift Wing Safety NCOIC of ground safety B team. "Folks will engage in outdoor activities for a change. With the long winter, many of us are a bit rusty. Take your time and think about the activity. What's your experience level? Do you need special training or personal protective equipment? The summer months require more safety awareness because you just haven't been outside for awhile."

The National Safety Council promotes safety in three main areas: work, home and on the road. While these areas don't encompass everything, many spend most of their time at work, home or on the road.

At work

According to a recent safety message from Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Roy, the goal for this summer is zero preventable mishaps.

In that same message, several issues were addressed. One of them was the proper usage of equipment.

"Protective equipment and clothing can minimize injury and increase your chances of surviving a mishap," the message said.

For those who work outside, practicing proper hydration and work/rest cycles is a main priority.

"It's very critical to keep hydrated ... take water breaks," Sergeant Sustaita said. "The hot sun can take a lot out of you. A camelback is a good way to keep hydrated. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Office workers likewise should keep themselves well hydrated."

At home

"Safety at home is also very important," the master sergeant said.

He also offered the following safety tips for in the home:
- Keep hazardous materials out of the reach of children.
- Check smoke detectors.
- Keep stairs clear of tripping hazards.
- Wear sturdy footwear while mowing the grass.
- Blow out candles before leaving the house.
- Keep children away from a hot barbeque pit.
- Watch out for children playing in the streets.

Another big item is to not leave the kitchen with something cooking on the stovetop.

"Many fires have occurred on and off base from unattended cooking," the NCOIC said.

On the road

According to the Air Force safety message, of the 21 fatalities last summer 18 were because of private vehicle accidents.

One of the issues Airmen should practice is to "reject reckless behavior" such as drinking and driving, using a cell phone while driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, improper alcohol use and extreme maneuvers -- 71 percent of the 21 deaths were related to reckless behavior.

While the above instances are the most common problems of driving safety, they are not the only safety issues to account for while driving.

"Keep your traveling distance -- basically stay off the other cars bumper," Sergeant Sustaita said. "Use your turn signal; it's there for a reason. Always look back before backing out. If you have small kids, do a quick walk around before backing out of the driveway. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order, breaking down on the autobahn is no fun."

Other safety practices

Two other issues the Air Force message highlighted were proper use of operational risk management and Act, Care, and Escort, or ACE.

"Always stay safety conscious to avoid being a mishap person. Don't become complacent in your job or off-duty activity. Stay focused on safety," the master sergeant said. "Nobody wakes up and says, 'I plan to get hurt today.' Don't take short cuts. Apply the principals of risk management. The key is to stay safety minded on and off duty."

To practice ACE, Airmen should be able to observe and respond to "distress" not only in their own lives but in the lives of others as well.

"We must be vigilant for our own well-being and that of our Wingman," the message said.

Although June has a heavy focus on safety, everyone should remain safety conscious year round.

"At Ramstein, we practice safety 365 days a year, because as active duty, we are always considered on duty," the NCOIC said. "Getting struck in the eye because you didn't feel like wearing personal protective equipment affects the mission. You get injured and placed on quarters, now you can't deploy. Who will take your place? Maybe the guy who planned a family trip to Disney is now getting a short notice free roundtrip to Afghanistan."

For more information on summer safety, visit the Air Force Safety Center Web site at

For more information on National Safety Month, visit