AF safety officials launch Critical Days of Summer campaign

The Critical Days of Summer safety campaign will begin May 28 and run through Sept. 7. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The Critical Days of Summer safety campaign will begin May 28 and run through Sept. 7. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- S is for Summer ... and Safety too!

It's that time of year again! Spring is here in full force, summer is right around the corner and that can only mean one thing: time for Air Force safety officials to kick off the Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, May 28 through September 7.

As much as you would like to think that nothing could happen to you, the fact is, the real statistics are pretty grim...

Some risks are constant, but summer brings increased activity which brings increased risk.

Twenty eight Airmen already have died in off-duty mishaps so far this year, and typically the Air Force loses about 19 over the summer. Many others sadly take their own lives.

Now, does any of this mean Air Force leaders expect you to cower under your dining room table all summer? Of course not! Everyone knows that life itself comes with inherent risks.

Some of you may even be thinking, "This is a small number out of more than 330,000 Airmen ... that's not too bad!" But how many of you would volunteer your best friend, or even yourself, as one of that "small number?"

The answer then is very simple: Every Airman must set a personal goal of ZERO preventable mishaps for him or herself and everyone around him or her. To achieve this goal, every commander must provide guidance, policy and resources. Every safety professional, from the Air Force Safety Center down to your unit safety representative, will work tirelessly to keep you educated and prepared to safely enjoy your off-duty time this summer.

But here's the rub: We can only do so much educating. Nobody but you will be there to make the right decisions when the critical moments occur.

Your commander won't be sitting in the passenger seat when you've had a few too many to drink and are about to drive home.

The Air Force surgeon general won't be at your dorm to read the signs that one of your peers is feeling suicidal.

The director of the Safety Center won't be at the boat launch handing out life vests to you and your kids.

The only one who can make the decisions critical to your survival is you.

Fortunately, the steps required to keep you and everyone around you safe are very simple: Think about the worst-case scenario and then decide whether you've done everything you could to eliminate or at least minimize the risk. If you do that and decide you can't live with the consequences, chances are it's time for a new plan.

Everyone at the Safety Center wants each and every one of you around at the end of the 2010 Critical Days of Summer. The choice is yours!