Memorial Day marked not only a day of reflection and honoring the country’s fallen service members, but also the beginning of the “101 Critical Days of Summer,” lasting from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
“During this time of year we see an increased number of accidents during off-duty hours,” said Vice Adm. Bill French, Commander, Navy Installations Command, in a recent message to Navy personnel on the summer season. “Kids are out of school, families are out on the road for vacation, the weather supports a variety of outdoor sports—the same mix of ingredients that can lead to great memories can often lead to a significant injury if we don’t appropriately manage the risks involved. I would ask that each of us take a step back and look at our summer plans.”
As the mercury rises across the National Capital Region, so does the risk of injuries as more people shake off the winter blues and enjoy the warmer weather. Some of the main causes of common injuries during this period involve heat and sun-related injuries, as well as lightning and storm injuries.
The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) advises that UVA, UVB and UVC ultraviolet rays are at their highest exposure during the summer months between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and may cause quick dehydration as well as heat-related ailments such as sun burn, rashes, cramps, exhaustion or heat stroke.
Overexposure to harmful UV rays over time may also cause premature skin wrinkling and aging, age spots and increased risk of skin cancer.
To prevent injury, experts advise avoiding going outdoors during midday if the sun is too intense. For those who work outside during summer months, apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 at least every two hours, and never use sunscreen that is more than one year old.
The NMCPHC also advises to cover yourself in appropriate attire including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that protect against UV rays, and stay hydrated with water rather than drinks loaded with caffeine or sugar, which may increase odds of heat stress.
Also during summer months, the NMCPHC reminds personnel that “When the thunder roars, go indoors!” and to monitor weather conditions and make appropriate plans before severe weather threatens your outdoor plans.
According to National Weather Service data, lightning kills an average of 62 people annually across the United States, and injures nearly 300 more. To mitigate risk of being struck by lightning, find shelter immediately during a storm and avoid contact with electrical equipment, and stay away from windows and doors.
The NMCPHC advises that there is no truly safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm, but if you find yourself away from hard-roofed buildings, avoid open fields, water, metal objects, or tall isolated objects and structures. For people enjoying a day on the water, get to land as soon as possible and find shelter. If stuck in the open during a thunderstorm, as a last resort, individuals should squat low to the ground on the balls of their feet, covering their ears and keeping their head between their knees. If you or someone you know is struck by lightning, always call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.
For more summer safety tips and information, visit www.safetycenter.navy.mil. For more information on news and events from around Naval District Washington, visit www.navdistwash.org or www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.